A California law enforcement official once honored as his department’s “Detective of the Year” now stands accused of sending sexually graphic messages to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Gregory Daniel Beaumarchais, 43, was released from jail Tuesday after turning himself on a warrant that charges him with one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a victim believed to be under the age of 18. He’s on paid leave from the Santa Ana Police Department, where he’s worked since 2011. A video posted on the department’s social media pages honor him as the 2019 “Detective of the Year.”
Beaumarchais’ charge stems from a civilian who contacted the Orange County’s Crime Stoppers hotline and said they’d been posing online as a 14-year-old girl when someone claiming to be a 45-year-old police officer sent them graphic messages between December 2021 and January 2022.
Beaumarchais has hired well-known Orange County criminal defense attorney Paul S. Meyer, who told Law&Crime on Tuesday, “It’s premature to comment.”
Federal authorities can take jurisdiction over internet-based crimes and often do in child sex abuse cases, but the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced only the misdemeanor charge against Beaumarchais on Tuesday and said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security assisted in the investigation.
Shawn Gibson, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security’s Los Angeles office, confirmed in the press release that the charge is related to Beaumarchais allegedly “showing sexual interest in children.”
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said it’s “beyond disturbing that a sworn police officer would engage in inappropriate conversations with someone he believed to be a child.”
“Our children should not have to worry about being preyed upon by the very people we teach them who are there to protect them,” Spitzer said in the press release. “The vast majority of police officers are the trusted authority figures we expect them to be and when an officer engages in criminal behavior it tarnishes the badge of all of our hardworking law enforcement officers.”
The Santa Ana Police Department said in its own press release that it received the tip on Friday, Dec. 17, and on Monday, Dec. 20, contacted federal authorities to request an investigation after its internal affairs unit “determined the matter to be criminal in nature.”
“The Police Department took immediate and swift action in referring these allegations to the appropriate local and federal authorities,” according to the department press release.
Beaumarchais will be on leave until the conclusion of the criminal and administrative investigations, police said. If convicted of the misdemeanor, Beaumarchais faces up to a year in jail and could be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
(Image: Screenshot from Santa Ana Police Department video)
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