Sometimes, you just have to go on a hunch. When the Department of Justice announced the indictment against Bernie Ward for child pornography in December, they issued a news release. At the time, a line at the bottom caught our attention: “… with the assistance of the Oakdale, Calif., Police Department.” We called the police in December and got confirmation the case started with a complaint from the town outside Modesto. Fast forward to last week – I decided to head to Oakdale and see what I could find. Who was the woman who filed the complaint?
Stopped at a diner, hit City Hall and the police department, spoke to some officers, and filed a California Public Records Act request for the police report. I didn’t really expect to get anything. Well, after consulting with the FBI, the Oakdale police did provide the report, and it was a disturbing 23 pages to read – disturbing in many ways. First, the detail and the variation of what Bernie Ward apparently told the woman from Oakdale, who used the screen name “Sexfairy”. Second, this is a man I know. I’ve appeared on Ward’s program to discuss other I-Team investigations. Now, I was investigating him.
Our legal analyst Dean Johnson says today’s revelations knock down Ward’s claim that he was researching a book. I remembered what an FBI agent told me a few weeks ago – he worked child pornography for years. He said that’s the second most common excuse a person uses when caught with child porn – “I was doing research.” The number one excuse? “That’s not mine” or “I didn’t know it was there.”
I’ve been exchanging e-mails with Ward the past couple weeks, trying to get him to tell his side of the story. He’s been very responsive – we’ve had several exchanges. And, I pressed the point today. But, he decided to go with the advice of his attorneys and declined to be interviewed on the record.
Bernie has been blogging periodically in an effort to get support for his case. You can see his site here.