BCI: More victims possible in sex case involving local trooper

PREBLE COUNTY — A veteran Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper arrested on sex crimes following a secret indictment earlier this week was arrested while he was on duty and investigators believe there could be more victims.

Christopher Ward, 44, was indicted on two counts of felony gross sexual imposition and one count of misdemeanor sexual imposition Monday.

The charges stem from two incidents, one that allegedly happened in January 2015 and another that happened while he was off duty involving a child victim last March, investigators said.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the agency leading the criminal investigation, said there is a possibility there could be more victims and encourage anyone with details to contact them.

“We have reason to believe there may be other victims who have not yet come forward,” Attorney General Dave Yost said. “We are prepared to use all available resources and are calling on the public to assist us in conducting a thorough investigation.”

Newly released cruiser camera footage from the Preble County Sheriff’s Office showed Ward being transported from his arrest location in Montgomery County. Ward was taken to the Butler County Jail following his arrest due to safety concerns if he were booked into the Preble County Jail, authorities said.

The investigation into the allegations against Ward was kicked off following a referral from Preble County Children’s Services.  The Ohio Attorney General’s Office then took over the investigation from there, after the Preble County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance.

Ward bonded out of jail Tuesday afternoon and is expected back in court March 28.

He was placed on administrative duties at the state patrol’s Dayton post as soon as the attorney general’s office started their investigation, the patrol said.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to exercise Chris’ due process rights,” Ward’s attorney Steven Hobbs said.

News Center 7 first told you about the 2015 incident Ward is accused in, when a woman said Ward groped her when he patted her down during a traffic stop on U.S. 35.

“And when he got between my legs, he wouldn’t stop,” the accuser told News Center 7 the day the traffic stop occurred.

This news agency reviewed Ward’s personnel file and it made no mention of the 2015 incident, however multiple sources confirmed there are other records that do reference the allegations.

News Center 7 has requested copies of those documents as well as cruiser camera footage from the traffic stop from the patrol.

The accuser’s mother said in a phone interview that Ward’s arrest comes as a relief.

“Our biggest thing is we don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” she said.

We’re also continuing to try and learn additional details on the incident Ward is accused in while he was off duty.