Inside Bernie Ward's online chats

February 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The ABC7 I-Team has the inside story of what lead up to the arrest of popular talk-radio host, Bernie Ward, on federal child pornography charges. It's an investigation you'll see Only On 7. We warn you that some of the information is graphic.

Bernie Ward got indicted in December and got fired from his job at KGO Radio, effective at the end of last year. Now, police reports just obtained by the I-Team tell us who blew the whistle on Ward, and how he came to send the woman child porn, by his own admission.

The case against Bernie Ward began with a phone call to the Oakdale Police Department, just outside Modesto.

"We received a report from a local resident of Oakdale that she had gotten an e-mail message and pornographic material involving juveniles," says Chief Marty West with the Oakdale Police Department.

The woman gave police the photographs and a transcript of her online conversation with Bernie Ward.

It's Christmas week, three years ago. Ward's on his home computer using the screen name "Vincentlio." He begins the chat with "Good afternoon, mistress." The woman using the name "Sexfairy" answers, "How was your day, slave?" In explicit detail, Ward describes being humiliated sexually. At one point, he asks, "Are you going to make me feel dirty, mistress?" "Sexfairy" answers, "Yes, I am."

Ward discusses group sex he had at an infamous porn theater in San Mateo. Then, nearly an hour into the conversation, he brings up photographs, "I love trading pictures." "Sexfairy" answers, "and why haven't I gotten any pics, slave? Send me some."

Ward sends several pictures -- one of a woman and two children. Ward describes her as a mother in her late thirties, she's topless. He says the naked boy is 14, that the girl wearing clothes is 12. They're all touching in a sexual way.

"Sexfairy" writes, "brb," (be right back). A half hour later, she's on the phone with police, reporting Bernie Ward for child porn. They tell her to keep chatting with Ward.

"It would be important to the case to gather as much information as possible in support of bringing charges against the person that's sending these pornographic messages," says Chief West.

In the days that follow, "Sexfairy" asks Ward for more pictures -- he complies. Then, police get a search warrant for Ward's AOL account. E-mail sent and received by "Vincentlio" had pictures attached.

An investigator writes, "several of the photographs depicted children engaged in or simulating sexual acts with adults or other children." The ages of the children in the pictures -- four to 17 years old.

"Bernie is an upstanding pillar of the community," says Jeannette Boudreau, Ward's civil attorney.

Ward's criminal defense and civil attorneys declined to be interviewed on camera Wednesday. However, they repeated what they've said from the beginning -- that Ward was doing research for a book.

"Whatever he did was inadvertent, it was something that was a violation maybe of the letter of the law, but certainly the one thing Bernie is not is a child pornographer. He's not a child molester," Boudreau told us in December of 2007.

They also now say Ward was role-playing during the online chats with "Sexfairy" and that all details of his sexual activity were 100-percent false. The former KGO Radio host is facing two counts for distribution of child pornography and one count for receipt of child porn.

With a jury trial set for June, ABC7 legal analyst, Dean Johnson, says the transcript of the Internet chats knocks down Ward's claim that he was researching a book.

"That's very bad news for Bernie because in these messages we not only have an almost systematic knocking down of every defense that could be raised to possession or distribution of child pornography," says Johnson.

Also, from the federal case file, we learned Ward's conditions of release on his $250,000 bond. He surrendered his passport. He's confined to his home with electronic monitoring -- he can leave only for work and to drive his children to and from school. His computer use is limited to his employment and he cannot have unsupervised contact with minors other than his children.

A difficult time for Ward, now, and a grim outlook for his future.

"If these Internet conversations are accurate, if they're truthful, if they correctly reflect what Bernie said, Bernie is potentially in a lot of trouble," says Johnson.

There's so much more in the police report that we can't discuss because it's just too graphic. Federal prosecutors declined to be interviewed for this report. We've been unable so far to contact the woman known as "Sexfairy." I did reach Bernie Ward directly and he says he would like to tell his side of the story, but he has to take his attorneys' advice not to talk.

There are more new details of the case in the I-Team blog here.

Have a tip on this or another investigation? E-mail the ABC7 I-Team or call 1-888-40-I-TEAM.