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Culver City Pianist Pleads Guilty in Child Sex Case

Joseph Lee Hedderich faces at least 10 years in prison.

A Culver City resident and pianist who worked at top arts schools throughout Los Angeles pleaded guilty on Monday to a federal charge for using a computer to try to start a sexual relationship with an 11-year-old student in the Los Angeles Ballet's summer dance program.

Joseph Lee Hedderich, 35, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.

He faces a potential term of at least 10 years in prison at sentencing Dec. 10, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dore said.

Hedderich acknowledged that as a pianist for last year's summer program, he corresponded with the girl through text and e-mail messages that included nude photos of himself, according to a plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.

The girl's parents discovered the material and contacted the Los Angeles Police Department, according to federal prosecutors.

Posing as the girl, detectives from the LAPD's Sexually Exploited Child Unit set up a "date" with Hedderich, and he was arrested on Sept. 1, 2011, when he showed up at her house in Pacific Palisades with a bouquet of flowers, intending to drive her back to his place, according to court documents.

Hedderich had been employed as an independent musical contractor at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, The Westside Academy of Dance, The California Institute of the Arts and the Los Angeles Ballet.

He was initially charged in state court last year with one count each of attempted lewd act upon a child, meeting a minor for lewd purposes, sending harmful matter and contact with a minor for a sexual offense.

The District Attorney's Office subsequently dropped the charges, clearing the way for Los Angeles federal prosecutors to handle the case.

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