Petaluma police arrest drug, alcohol counselor accused of sexually assaulting teen

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- Police in the North Bay have arrested a drug and alcohol counselor accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Investigators say 38-year-old Brett Niebergall met the girl through a social media app.

They met on a social media app and communicated online for a few days and then agreed to meet last Saturday at his Petaluma apartment. The 16-year-old went to police on Monday with allegations of sexual assault.

A woman didn't want to be identified. She has daughters and lives down the street from Niebergall's Petaluma apartment.

"I was frightened. I called my mom, I said make sure you're with the girls," she said.

Niebergall faces charges of drugging and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl he met through a social media app. Police arrested him Tuesday after searching his apartment.

"Not only found evidence, but also admissions to the crime," said Petaluma police Sgt. Paul Gilman.

Niebergall works at Muir Woods Adolescent and Family Services as lead recovery counselor. The website says he has extensive experience helping adolescents and that he worked with foster children. The facility's executive director says Neibergall has been suspended, pending the investigation.

In a statement, Scott Sowle said, "All of our employees are thoroughly vetted and undergo a comprehensive pre-employment screening process that includes fingerprinting, called live scan."

Police are taking the opportunity to remind families about online safety.

"I would just encourage parents of minors to know what their children are doing online, that they're not accessing apps that can easily make them the victim of predators," said Sgt. Paul Gilmartin.

Niebergall is currently out on bail.
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