We found the first mention of this close friend in the sentencing memo filed last week. Now, we can report who it is and we can tell you about a dramatic meeting in the halls of KGO Radio.
April 3rd, 2005 -- Bernie Ward has just wrapped up his Sunday morning program, "God Talk," when he runs into an old friend outside the studio.
"Bernie walked out and just fell into my arms crying and said that his house had been raided by the FBI and that he was devastated," said child advocate Michael Pritchard.
Pritchard gave up his career as a stand-up comic to become a motivational speaker and child advocate. So, he was stunned when Ward explained why he was in trouble, because of what he had done on the Internet.
Michael Pritchard: "That he's, you know, viewed some stuff, and I knew immediately what that meant because there's nothing on the Internet other than that that's going to cause the Federal Bureau of Investigation to actually come to your home."
Dan Noyes: "Did he actually say child porn?"
Michael Pritchard: "Yes."
Dan Noyes: "And you asked him for how long?"
Michael Pritchard: "For a year."
Dan Noyes: "And he said for a year?"
Michael Pritchard: "He said for a year."
Ward's case got rolling after he e-mailed an image of child porn to a woman from the Central Valley town of Oakdale. She called police who brought in the FBI, and three months later, agents raided Ward's home. Three days after that, Ward confessed to Pritchard.
"And I still love him and I want the best for him and hope that he would redeem himself, but at the same time, I have spent my entire life protecting children," said Pritchard.
That morning, Pritchard was set to appear as a guest on the show after "God Talk." He told Bernie to wait until he was done so they could talk. But when Pritchard left the studio, Ward was gone.
Michael Pritchard: "He told me he did not want to live and I was afraid that he would harm his family, so I immediately -- when I was done -- I called the FBI and asked them to secure his family, which I know they did."
Dan Noyes: "Was there ever a question in your mind that you would call the FBI? Did you hesitate?"
Michael Pritchard: "No, I knew, I knew because I wanted to secure his family. People that are suicidal are often homicidal."
Pritchard also gave the FBI a statement that became part of the case against Ward. He's listed as an unnamed "close friend" in the sentencing memo filed last week. And, to this day, Ward is sticking to his contention that he was researching a book.
Dan Noyes: "He all along, since his arrest, has been talking about how this was research for a book. In that initial conversation with you was there mention of a book or research?"
Michael Pritchard: "Never. Never mentioned anything about that, never mentioned that."
Dan Noyes: "What do you think about him saying that?"
Michael Pritchard: "I feel so sad for him that he doesn't just let the wall down and say what he needs to say and that is my hope, my wish and my prayer that he would do that for himself."
Pritchard tells the I-Team that he has no second thoughts about the role he played in Ward's conviction.
"Pornography is worse than death to a child. It kills the spirit and when a child is abused like that, we need as a community to step up and if you're doing this stuff, turn yourself in. Do yourself and our community a favor, turn yourself in and get straight," said Pritchard.
Pritchard says Ward has to accept the consequences of his actions and hopes he will use his time in prison to help other inmates.
- Watch the entire interview with Ward's close friend Michael Prichard
- I-Team blog: Witness for the prosecution
- Read sentencing memo
- Watch the entire interview with Sexfairy (15 minutes)
- Read a verbatim transcript of interview with Sexfairy
- Complete transcript of chats between "Sexfairy" and Bernie Ward (PDFf)
Related Bernie Ward stories:
- Prosecutors seek 9-year sentence for Ward
- "Sexfairy" reveals herself, speaks to I-Team
- I-Team blog: Bernie Ward's "Sexfairy" Talks
- Ward complaints date back to priesthood
- Inside Bernie Ward's online chats
- Judge unseals indictment against Bernie Ward
- I-Team blog: Bernie Ward and "Sexfairy"
- I-Team blog: Ward fired -- for now
- I-Team blog: Ward indicted on child porn
- I-Team blog: Ward indictment unsealed