Ex-trooper trial: Defendant Ward rejected plea deal for fewer criminal counts

Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 @ 6:10 PM

The Preble County Sheriff's Office has released cruiser cam video of former OSP Trooper Christopher Ward being transported to the Preble County Jail in the back of a cruiser.

The trial for former Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Christopher Ward, who is accused of multiple sex crimes, will continue Wednesday in Preble County Common Pleas Court.

  • Ward is charged with 5 counts of gross sexual imposition, 2 counts of sexual battery
  • There are six accusers, including a minor
  • Prosecutors say Ward “used his authority to sexually abuse these women”
  • Defense attorney says evidence will show Ward is innocent

UPDATE @ 7:45 p.m.: Christopher Ward, the former Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper charged with committing multiple sex crimes, rejected a plea deal some months ago that would have avoided the possibility of a life term in prison, Associate Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Reed said in court Tuesday. 

Reed said the deal Ward turned down would have had him plead guilty to a single count of sexual battery and two counts of gross sexual imposition. 

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According to the state attorney general's office, the deal would have meant lifetime registration as a sex offender and a maximum of eight years in prison. 

Ward was presented with the deal before a superceding indictment was handed up in early November, which added the possibility of life in prison if he is convicted as charged.

UPDATE @ 11:00 a.m.:

Defense attorney Steve Hobbs said the evidence in the case will show Christopher Ward is innocent.

Hobbs said about one of the allegations, “it’s just bunk. It’s phooey. Chris is not gonna do that.”

>> New victims lead to more sex charges against former trooper

Hobbs also said there was another trooper present when one of the allegations of a woman being groped during a traffic stop was said to have happened. Hobbs said that trooper will testify. 

“That trooper will be here. He will testify tomorrow. That trooper will tell you that Ward did everything appropriately,” Hobbs said.

>> Former OSHP trooper charged with sex crimes given training instead of discipline for 2015 incident

Hobbs also said on the allegations that kicked off this entire investigation – the referral to Preble County Children Services about the incident involving the juvenile victim – happened during a custody battle with his ex-wife.

Hobbs said during his opening statement, “the first allegations started with a disgruntled ex-wife.”

Hobbs noted during his assertion that the ex-wife, during the custody battle, “went to the authorities and said, ‘Hey, I think Chris Ward did something wrong. I want it looked into.’ Not that it would benefit her in any way.”

Hobbs closed his opening statement by telling the judge, “Once you’ve heard all the evidence, I’m convinced you will have no other alternative than to find Chris Ward not guilty.”

UPDATE @ 10:24 a.m.:

Opening statements from prosecutors in the Christopher Ward trial have ended with the special prosecutor saying Ward “used his position of authority to sexually assault each of these women."

Special prosecutors asked Visiting Judge James A. Brogan to hold the former trooper accountable for the charges he faces.

The state alleges Ward groped two women during traffic stops and forced two others to perform a sex act on him during traffic stops, said Joel King, the special prosecutor assigned by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

King said one of the forced instances of sex happened in the front seat of Ward's state patrol cruiser, another in the front seat of the car of the woman he had just pulled over.

Ward gave his number to a woman he pulled over during another traffic stop, King said during his opening statements.

King said Ward the two went on a date and when they returned the Ward’s home, the alleged victim used the restroom and came out to find Ward had changed into uniform. The former trooper then was accused of groping the woman, King said.

INITIAL REPORT:

The trial for Christopher Ward, a former Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper accused of sex crimes, is underway.

Ward, 45, is charged with five counts of gross sexual imposition and two counts of sexual battery.

The alleged assaults with five of the victims occurred within the course of his employment. The sixth victim is a minor.

The charges stem from incidents alleged to have occurred between November, 2011 and March, 2018.

A woman who identifies herself as the mother of the alleged victim in the 2015 case told WHIO-TV’s Sean Cudahy the case has been tough on her family.

According to a spokesman with the state Attorney General’s office, the 2015 case stems from an incident reported to have involved Ward, who was on duty, during a traffic stop.

Ward could face life in prison if convicted as charged.

The state patrol terminated him following his indictment.

>>  Lawyer: Fired trooper fighting termination decision following sex case indictment