A Los Angeles police officer who worked in an LAPD youth program was convicted Tuesday of distributing harmful matter to a teenage girl, authorities said.
After a five-day trial, a downtown L.A. jury convicted Abel Montes De Oca of two misdemeanor counts: destroying evidence and distributing “harmful matter” to a juvenile, according to the L.A. city attorney’s office.
De Oca, 32, was acquitted of two counts of child annoyance.
After the verdict was read, the judge remanded De Oca into custody, and he is being held on $100,000 bail, prosecutors said.
He faces up to 18 months in jail and mandatory sex offender registration at his sentencing scheduled for Friday.
Prosecutors say that in September 2015, the officer met a then-16-year-old girl who was a cadet in the L.A. Police Department’s Community Youth Program. The program runs 18 weeks and provides physical training and criminal justice education to students ages 13 to 20, according to the program’s website.
Through October 2015, prosecutors alleged that De Oca sought an inappropriate relationship with the girl, sending her text messages and other missives via social media.
But once the officer’s mistreatment of the girl was disclosed, prosecutors alleged he tried to delete photos and messages from his phone and computer, according to the city attorney’s office. He also told the girl to wipe out any evidence of his correspondence.
Police arrested De Oca in August at the LAPD’s downtown headquarters.
“This was an egregious breach of trust by an LAPD officer responsible for supervising student cadets,” City Atty. Mike Feuer said in a statement. “It is essential to hold the officer accountable for taking advantage of his position to victimize a minor. Our cadets commit to public service. They deserve our respect and our protection.”
De Oca was required to stay at home during the months-long investigation into his conduct by the internal affairs division.
The officer has been with the department for about nine years. It’s unclear how long he was assigned to be a youth services officer, the position in which he encountered the teenage girl.
In a statement, the LAPD said it treats allegations of misconduct seriously, especially those involving youth programs.
“When we learned about Montes De Oca’s actions, he was immediately relieved of duty and the LAPD’s criminal investigation led to today’s conviction,” the LAPD statement said.
An attorney for De Oca could not be reached for comment.
It’s unclear if De Oca remained employed by the LAPD or faced any disciplinary action. Under state law, officers’ personnel records and disciplinary history are kept private.
6:55 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the LAPD.
This article was originally published at 6:05 p.m.