The wife of a Pennsylvania police chief charged with soliciting sex from who he allegedly thought was a 14-year-old girl is reeling from the claims, saying they have shocked and “completely shattered” their family.
In an emotional statement, Danielle Reinke Diebold said she was “blindsided” and deeply hurt after her husband, Michael Diebold, the chief of the Leechburg Police Department, was arrested Friday for soliciting sex from an undercover agent posing online as a 14-year-old girl.
“I have never hurt so bad in all my life,” Danielle Diebold said in a statement to TIME, which was sent through her sister. “Our lives have been completely shattered.”
Prosecutors said Michael Diebold, 40, sent inappropriate photos to an undercover agent, who claimed several times to be a 14-year-old girl. When Diebold set up plans to meet the girl last week, law enforcement officers greeted him and took him into custody instead.
“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 news release.
Diebold’s wife said she never had to question her husband’s integrity. She said his family knew him to be a “loving, caring father and husband.” “We are grieving the loss of that man,” she wrote. “I feel like they are two different people — but they are not.”
“I don’t know how to pick up all these broken pieces and find a way to put them back together and go on with my life, but I have to try to find a way for my children,” Danielle Diebold added. “I am broken, devastated, humiliated, and I was completely blindsided.”
Diebold faces felony charges of unlawful contact with a minor and criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, prosecutors said. He was still unable to post his $500,000 bail as of Monday, according to his attorney, Duke George. His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 16, during which time Diebold will plead not guilty and request a jury trial, George said. “He’s entitled to due process like any other citizen,” George said.
In regards to Danielle Diebold’s statement, George said: “It’s heartwrenching to say the least, because it affects the family.” “I just wish her the best and the children the best,” he added.