The former veteran Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography in 2018 has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Friday.
Donald Dehnert, 46, appeared in court Monday where he pleaded guilty in exchange for letting the judge determine punishment. In return, she handed down the maximum sentence. Dehnert was facing a sentence ranging from probation to 10 years in prison.
“When a peace officer violates their position of trust, they are going from protector to predator,” Ogg said. “And we work hard to bring them to justice, not just for their victims but for the entire community.”
Dehnert was relieved of duty on March 29, 2018, after an investigation that began in North Texas. The investigation was conducted by HCSO, the Grand Prairie Police Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Texas Department of Public Safety along with Texas Rangers and all members of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
According to authorities, a Grand Prairie detective who was monitoring the internet found evidence of Dehnert allegedly attempting to solicit a minor for sex in an online chat room.
A warrant was issued to search Dehnert’s home based on an online undercover investigation where the defendant solicited sex with an undercover officer’s 5- and 11-year-old daughters.
Dehnert allegedly admitted to having child pornography on a flash drive that was found at his home in Kingwood. He said he deleted the images, but forensics investigators were able to retrieve them. The flash drive had photos of nude children under two years old and a girl who appeared to be between six and eight years old. One image showed the girl appearing to perform a sexual act.
Dehnert joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1992 and was relieved of duty when he was arrested, according to the agency.
Assistant District Attorney Timothy Goodwin, who prosecuted the case, said the judge made the right decision in sentencing the former officer to the maximum.
“He was trusted to protect the vulnerable, but he chose to prey on them instead,” Goodwin said.