Dr. Colleen Halloran headed straight for the cameras to blast the federal government after the judge gave her husband, former KGO Radio host Bernie Ward, seven years and three months in prison for distributing child pornography. You could almost hear echoes of Bernie Ward’s radio show in his wife’s statement: “This whole proceeding has been crushing with an anvil. The justice department sure hasn't got any of the real terrorists out there, they got us into a war that was based on a lie, they can't control the economy, they can't control gas prices, but oh boy they got that really dangerous criminal Bernie Ward off the street and have destroyed his family, I thank you all very much.”
In court, Judge Vaughn Walker said several points troubled him about Ward’s actions – Ward comes from a strong religious background; he told a probation officer he was abused as a youngster from the fifth to seventh grades; he went on to become a priest and had a radio show “God Talk” that dealt with religious issues; as a reporter, Ward investigated child abuse committed by Catholic priests. Judge Walker said that because of his background, Ward should have understood the devastating impact of child porn and should have sought help “confronting this predilection”.
The judge was also troubled by the images themselves – 100 pictures found on Ward’s AOL e-mail, in the read and sent folders. Ward also belonged to a list group that traded child porn; he sent ten images to different individuals. These were not naked pictures of fourteen or fifteen year old girls. Prosecutor Steve Grocki said they were pre-pubescent girls as young as two or three years of age, engaged in full sexual contact with adult males, including bondage and sado-masochism: "He traded in the currency of human suffering, of childrens' suffering." Judge Walker revealed in court that he viewed some of the images himself, at the request of the prosecution. The judge was also concerned about the content of instant messages sent to Sexfairy, the woman from Oakdale to whom Ward e-mailed an image of child porn. The judge said he was troubled that a parent would write about sexual activity with his own children, even if it was just fantasy.
Judge Walker said he’s “not convinced sending him to prison is the best way to deal with an individual with these problems”, that “very little good has come out of all this”. Still, the judge sentenced Bernie Ward to 87 months in federal prison. As I said on the air today, under federal guidelines, Ward has to serve 85-percent of his sentence. The earliest he’ll get out is October 2014. That is, after he surrenders to federal marshals tomorrow. His deadline is noon.
ABC 7 Legal Analyst Dean Johnson says Ward should not be heading for a “club fed”; that he’s now a sex offender, who at best will serve his time in a low security FCI or federal correctional institution.