The 25-year-old New Jersey man with whom Rosie O'Donnell's daughter was found after she was reported missing last week did not enter a plea to charges of endangering the welfare of a child and distributing obscene images to a minor at a court appearance Monday.
Steven Sheerer was arrested Friday night at his home in Barnegat. A criminal complaint alleges he sent a nude photo over the Internet to a minor. A spokeswoman for Rosie O'Donnell confirmed over the weekend the minor involved in the case is O'Donnell's daughter, Chelsea, who is 17.
Chelsea O'Donnell had been found at Sheerer's home Tuesday, hours after her mother posted a statement online saying the girl had left home on Aug. 11.
Sheerer's arrest stems from an investigation into the 17-year-old's cellphone calls that was initiated with the consent of the girl's mother. Police said the phone showed evidence of inappropriate communications over the last several weeks between Sheerer and teenager. Investigators also executed a search warrant and seized a computer and other digital equipment from Sheerer's home.
Police have said they don't believe anything criminal occurred while Chelsea O'Donnell was with him. Authorities said she suffers from mental illness and hadn't been taking her medication.
Sheerer's attorney, Robert Tarver, says he plans to provide the prosecution evidence to demonstrate his client is innocent of the charges.
"Everyone's been left with the notion that he's some sort of predator and, quite frankly, nothing could be further from the truth," Tarver said. "And we're able to show that."
Tarver said he would present exculpatory evidence at the appropriate time.
Sheerer, who was held in Ocean City Jail over the weekend, remains incarcerated in default of $40,000 cash bail. A bail reviewing hearing was scheduled for Tuesday and Tarver said he hopes to have his client's bail reduced.
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.