Be warned that the sentencing report provides graphic details of the crime to which Ward has pleaded guilty. We now know Ward had one 100 images of what the FBI calls "the most egregious kind" of child porn. Prosecutors have identified at least 12 of the young victims and that Ward's close friend reported him to the FBI.
The 26-page sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors lays out the case against Ward, saying, "This man sent and received horrific images of small children being bound, gagged, and brutally sexually abused."
The case began after Ward got into an online relationship with a woman from the Central Valley town of Oakdale, who went by the screen name "Sexfairy." After two to three weeks of instant messages, Ward sent her child porn that included a picture of a naked 14-year-old boy, a clothed 12-year-old girl, and a topless woman in her thirties, all touching in a sexual way.
Dan Noyes: "When you saw that, what went through your mind?"
Linda Figueiredo ("Sexfairy"): "Oh my God, basically, I was, my stomach wrenched, my stomach turned, I was trying to figure out what do i do?"
She called police who brought in the FBI. The sentencing report says agents identified the photo Ward sent as part of the "Sabaan" series taken in brazil in the mid-1990s -- Sabaan being the name of the girl in the picture.
When the FBI served a search warrant on Ward's AOL account, they found 100 more graphic images in his "read" and "sent" files -- mostly girls from three to nine years of age, in various forms of sexual contact with adult males, some bound and gagged, one being whipped.
"We have to say child pornography by its nature is shocking. The allegations as to the content of this particular child pornography are some of the most shocking," said ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.
Prosecutors say Ward belonged to an online list group of people who traded child porn, that Ward made specific requests to the group for "young or family" pictures, and sent "at least one image of child pornography to approximately 10 different members" of the group.
The FBI sent the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which identified approximately 12 of the young victims from its database.
"Many times what the pedophiles will do is that when they have a sexual encounter with a child, they'll always take a photograph so they can trade it with their friends. It becomes like a trading card, so the well-known ones are traded over and over and over again on the Internet," said David Replogle, founder of Campaign Against Child Exploitation Today.
The sentencing report also reveals that in April of 2005, shortly after the FBI raided his home, Ward met an old friend, hugged him and burst into tears, saying, "I've been looking at things I'm not supposed to on the Internet" -- child porn. When the friend asked for how long, Ward answered "a year." Ward's friend then called the FBI, stating "he had information that was relevant to its investigation."
Prosecutors sent a letter Wednesday asking the judge to view the images that Ward sought out and sent -- what they call "child pornography of the most egregious kind."
Johnson believes that is an unusual move, but a good one for the prosecution.
"I think to have a real appreciation for how serious these crimes are, you really should look at the images, as difficult as that is to do," said Johnson.
We called Ward's attorney for comment several times Thursday, but did not hear back. The sentencing report also mentions an I-Team investigation that found complaints of sexual misconduct against Ward when he was a priest almost 30 years ago. That could play a role in sentencing, but probably a minor one in light of all the evidence in the child porn case.
You can read the entire sentencing memo in our I-Team blog here. A warning -- it contains the most disturbing details of this case that we've seen to date.
- Watch the entire interview with Sexfairy (15 minutes)
- Read a verbatim transcript of the interview
- Complete transcript of chats between "Sexfairy" and Bernie Ward (pdf)
Related Bernie Ward stories:
- "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