The owner of the New Jersey home where Rosie O’Donnell’s missing teen daughter was found last week has been arrested for allegedly having inappropriate online communications with the 17-year-old girl, according to authorities and the star’s spokeswoman.
Steven Sheerer faces charges of child endangerment and distribution of obscenity to a minor, authorities said Saturday. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office declined to identify the victim, but a spokeswoman for O’Donnell said the case involves her daughter, Chelsea.
"He was involved with a minor, and Rosie's concern has been and always will be the health, safety and well-being of her daughter," Cindi Berger told The Associated Press. "Rosie is profoundly appreciative for the work the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office has done and the diligence of the local police."
The 25-year-old was arrested Friday night at his home in Barnegat, police said. Chelsea O’Donnell had been found at the home Tuesday, hours after her mother posted a statement saying the girl had left home on Aug. 11.
Police went to the home and the person who answered the door didn’t want to reveal Chelsea’s presence initially, authorities said. Police said they told the occupant wouldn’t leave until she came out, then she speared and willingly left with police.
Sheerer’s arrest came several hours after authorities had obtained the girl’s cellphone with her mother’s consent, prosecutors said. They allegedly found “inappropriate communications” that had occurred over the last several weeks between Sheerer and the teen.
Authorities also seized a computer and other digital equipment at the man’s home when they executed a search warrant. Sheerer’s bail was set at $40,000 cash and he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, authorities said.
Sheerer will likely be arraigned sometime next week, but a court date has not yet been scheduled, prosecutors said.
Court records show Sheerer pleaded guilty to drug offenses in separate cases in 2012 and 2013. In each case, he was sentenced to two years of probation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.