Local physician assistant arrested on child porn charges

BROWNSVILLE — Authorities say a former Kansas police officer currently employed as a physician assistant who worked with unaccompanied minors has been charged with child pornography.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said Stephen Allen Pichler, 56, of Harlingen, was arrested on charges of possession and promotion of child pornography.

The Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigations Task Force and the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations Unit executed a search warrant at Pichler’s Harlingen home and discovered large quantities of child pornography, according to investigators with the district attorney’s office.

Saenz said Pichler, who worked primarily with children, is a serious threat to kids in the community.

“Now you have professionals and professional positions that parents trust, for example, in this case, when you take your child to the doctor and the first thing they do is undress the child and you’re asked to wait in the lobby,” Saenz said. “You want to know they are safe.”

The man had a contract to work with unaccompanied minors who were detained after crossing into the United States.

Saenz said Pichler had both state and federal contracts, but declined to elaborate.

“So this guy was in a position to really abuse his confidence and position and professionalism and shows how challenging it is for law enforcement to ferret these people out,” Saenz said. “Where does this end? The reality is it doesn’t.”