A California cop who was heralded as “Detective of the Year” just three years ago has been charged with sending sexually explicit messages to someone he thought was a teenage girl, authorities said.
Santa Ana Police Detective Gregory Daniel Beaumarchais, 43, is facing a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a victim believed to be under the age of 18, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
“Police officers are entrusted with the sacred responsibility to safeguard society from harm,” the prosecutor said in a statement. “It is 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.”
Beaumarchais allegedly exchanged sexually explicit social media messages with a civilian posing as a 14-year-old girl between December 2021 and January 2022. The sexually graphic messages were often sent while Beaumarchais was on duty, Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Kimberly Edds told the New York Post.
When his social media provider barred him, Beaumarchais allegedly created another account under a similar user name, Edds said.
The civilian who posed as a young girl contacted the non-profit organization Orange County Crime Stoppers and reported the alleged criminality.
In addition to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security took part in the investigation.
“Today’s filing of criminal charges for showing sexual interest in children shows no one is above the law when it comes to keeping communities free from predators,” said Shawn Gibson, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Los Angeles bureau. “HSI is grateful for the collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to get these predators out of our communities and into the justice system.”
Beaumarchais turned himself in Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court to face formal charges on October 13. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Beaumarchais, a veteran of more than a decade with the Santa Ana Police Department, was part of its “Major Enforcement Team,” which handles criminal activity including gangs, gun trafficking, and narcotics, according to the Post.
“Upon assessing the information, the Department’s Internal Affairs Unit determined the matter to be criminal in nature and the Police Department took immediate and swift action in referring these allegations to the appropriate local and federal authorities,” Santa Ana Police officials said. “Our department learned of this information on a Friday, and the following Monday, we directly engaged with federal partners to initiate a criminal investigation.”
If convicted, Beaumarchais will be required to register as a sex offender and face up to a year in the Orange County Jail.