Yet another U.S. law enforcement agent has been caught up in a child-sex sting conducted by his colleagues. On Friday, 40-year-old Michael Diebold—chief of police for the small Western Pennsylvania town of Leechburg—was arrested after arranging a sexual tryst with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
The "teenager" was actually an undercover officer from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Diebold was charged with two first-degree felonies: unlawful contact with a minor and criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He remains in the Westmoreland County Jail on $500,000 bond. Diebold's lawyer says he will plead not guilty at a January 18 hearing.
The undercover agents had been chatting with Diebold since September after responding to an online sex ad he posted on Kik. Diebold was not initially seeking an underage companion; his ad sought an adult female for a consensual dom/sub relationship. But the chief was apparently undeterred when the "woman" who responded said she was actually just 14 years old and in the eight grade. "Everyone has to have a first time," Diebold allegedly responded, according to the criminal complaint against him.
Over the next few weeks, Diebold allegedly sent the girl lewd pics and asked "her" repeatedly to meet in person. They eventually arranged to meet at a Sheetz gas station last Friday, where Diebold was taken into custody. According to the police affadavit, Diebold admitted that he had been the one chatting with undercover officers, said that he knew sexual activity with a 14-year-old was wrong, and said that he knew his "life was over" now.
Diebold—a 21-year police veteran and the town's police chief since 2007—had gone on paid medical leave following a fireworks accident last year, and he remains on paid leave now, according to Leechburg Mayor Wayne Dobos. As for Diebold's future with the department, Dobos told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Right now I have no comment outside of I'm shocked."
Diebold was also married last summer, and his wife recently gave birth to a son.
Diebold's wife Danielle released a statement to CBS Pittsburgh on Sunday, saying she was "broken, devastated, humiliated," and "completely blindsided." Michael Diebold "was the first man ever in my life who never made me question, never gave me a gut feeling, never a bad instinct or sign and we were even in the process of planning to extend our family," she said. "This is not who we knew. We knew a loving, caring father and husband and we are grieving the loss of that man."