A Pennsylvania police chief hailed as a local hero after losing his arm in a June fireworks accident was arrested Friday on suspicion of trying to solicit sex from a14-year-old girl online.
At the time of his arrest, Leechburg police Chief Michael Diebold believed he was meeting 14-year-old girl for sex, after arranging the encounter on an online dating app, according to state prosecutors. The teenage girl Diebold thought he was chatting was actually another cop, officials said, working undercover with the state attorney general's child predator unit.
"This case is particularly heinous because the perpetrator is a public official, sworn to serve and protect the community" Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement.
Diebold caught the attention of the undercover agent after identifying himself as a police officer in an online ad soliciting sex, according to the criminal complaint. "I am a dom male that is also employed as a full time police officer," the ad's title allegedly stated. "I hope that does not scare you off."
Diebold, who is married, wrote in the ad he was "looking for a female sub for ongoing play sessions," and signed the ad with his KIK messenger app handle, "kutecop4yous," according to the complaint.
Authorities on Friday said that in multiple messages between Diebold and the undercover officer pretending to be a 14-year-old, the police chief was told he was speaking with an underage girl, but that he still continued to arrange a meeting for sex. He was taken into custody at a gas station in Westmoreland County, where he allegedly planned to meet the fictitious teenager.
"Diebold sent inappropriate pictures to the undercover agent and solicited the agent for unlawful sexual contact," the attorney general's office said in its statement. "He then made plans to meet the undercover agent."
"proof that you are serious would be a bra and panty pic right now," Diebold allegedly texted on one occasion, according to an affidavit.
"I am cold and naked now wanna see," he wrote another time.
According to the complaint, Diebold "admitted that he knew that sexual contact with a 14-year-old child was wrong and illegal and that his life was totally over."
Diebold had become a local celebrity last year after he lost part of his left arm in a near-fatal fireworks explosion. Diebold married his fiancé 18 days after the explosion in a ceremony that was covered by local media. News outlets, as well as the Associated Press, continued to chronicle Diebold's recovery, as he was fitted with a prosthetic arm that he hoped would allow him to get back to work.
Diebold had planned to return to the job last month, but was placed on paid leave on Dec. 11, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. As of Saturday evening, he was still listed as the police chief on the Leechburg Police Department's website.
Diebod was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to Westmoreland County Prison records, and could not be reached for comment Saturday. Information about his attorney was not immediately available.