Bernie Ward sentenced for child porn

Bernie Ward, the popular radio talk-show host disgraced by federal child-pornography charges, was sentenced Thursday to seven years and two months in prison.

Ward, who is married and has four children, was fired in December 2007 from KGO-AM in San Francisco after a grand jury indictment accused him of actively uploading and sharing images of child pornography on the Internet. His KGO-AM shows included the Sunday morning “God Talk” program.

“I feel very sorry for you and your family,” Judge Vaughn Walker told Ward. The judge said he was troubled by Ward’s hypocrisy — while the former priest was lambasting the Roman Catholic Church for not rooting out pedophiles in its ranks, he failed to get help for his own predilections, Walker noted.

Police began investigating Ward in 2005 after a woman from Oakdale reported the former radio host had sent her a series of images depicting children engaging in or simulating sex acts. Authorities said the woman was an online dominatrix, who had a series of anonymous online interactions with Ward, whom she referred to as her “slave.”

Ward admitted to sending between 15 and 150 pornographic images by e-mail as part of his plea deal.

In court Thursday, Ward apologized to his friends, family and the community as his loved ones wept in the gallery. “I do take full responsibility for those actions,” he said.

In May, Ward pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography, part of a plea bargain that dismissed two other charges.

He will begin his sentence Thursday at the minimum-security Lompoc facility. After his release, Ward will undergo supervised probation for the rest of his life and must register as a sex offender.

Ward’s defense attorney, Doron Weinberg, called the case the saddest of his career and noted that more than 100 people wrote letters attesting to his client’s work in the community.

“What’s profoundly sad is that Bernie Ward is a very good man,” he said. “This conduct spanned a brief period in an exemplary life.”

But prosecutor Steve Grocki said Ward’s appetite for child pornography supported a trade that ruined lives.

“Looking at those pictures, the faces are silent but their torment and anguish is represented,” he said. “He traded in the currency of human suffering — of children’s suffering.”

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewscourtsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocal

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