The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. has charged Ward with two felony counts of obtaining and transmitting child pornography over the Internet. Ward's agent told ABC7 News today that she expects "when all the facts are out there, Bernie will be completely vindicated." She also says the last thing Ward would want to do is "hurt a child."
The charges date back to December of 2004. That's when FBI agents seized Ward's computer. Federal prosecutors claim Ward used it to download pornographic images of children. They also accuse Ward of trading some of those images with other adults in cyberspace.
Ward's agent, Jeannette Boudreau, said on KGO Radio this afternoon, "he is one of the most soulful, hard working persons that I've ever met. He's a family man and I just know that he'll be vindicated in the end."
Ward's attorney insists it's all a misunderstanding and adds Ward is "very saddened" by the charges against him.
Doron Weinberg says Ward went looking for child pornography on the Web as part of research for a book he was writing about hypocrisy in America.
Ward and his legal team have spent the last few years trying to persuade the FBI and federal prosecutors to not treat this as a criminal matter. They believe it's a First Amendment issue, and that Ward never looked for child pornography on the Internet before he set out to do research or since agents took his computer.
KGO Radio's operations director, Jack Swanson, released a statement today saying, "Bernie Ward has been a valued, long-time employee of KGO Radio. We were just recently made aware of these serious charges and are surprised and concerned by their nature. As the matter is currently pending in federal court, we will have no additional comment at this time."
The station also said Ward will remain off the air for now, and a fill-in host will replace him on his weeknight talk show and on his Sunday morning "Godtalk" program.
The former Catholic priest and self-proclaimed "lion of the left" has been with KGO Radio for 23 years.
The indictment against Ward will remain sealed until next week.