Lawyer: Fired trooper fighting termination decision following sex case indictment

ajc.com

A former state trooper fired after he was indicted on two sex crime charges is fighting the decision to fire him from the highway patrol.

Christopher Ward, 44, was indicted a week ago on two counts of felony gross sexual imposition and one count of misdemeanor sexual imposition.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ward was terminated for violating the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s rules and regulations.

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Ward’s attorney, Steve Hobbs, told News Center 7 Ward filed a grievance with the patrol after he was fired Wednesday.

The charges stem from two incidents, one in January 2015 and another while he was off duty involving a child last March, investigators said.

In newly obtained documents, News Center 7 has found Ward was the subject of at least three different administrative investigations by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The documents, obtained through a public records request, show in January 2014 Ward pulled over a car stolen from North Carolina in Eaton.

Ward contacted the owner and told her he’d pay for the car to be towed if she handed over the title to the vehicle to him.

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The documents say the owner didn’t want the car anymore, because of its condition and because she didn’t want to travel from North Carolina to Ohio to come get it.

The documents show the Preble County Prosecutor’s declined felony charges in the case and Eaton Municipal Court prosecutors decline to review it citing a conflict of interest and asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to look into it.

Ward ultimately was convicted on a certificate of title violation and paid $170 in fines and court costs, records show.

An internal investigation by the OSHP found Ward “converted a recovered stolen car into personal use” and the patrol’s director thought Ward getting terminated was appropriate, but the documents we obtained said the patrol decided to let Ward keep his job in exchange for a 5-day suspension and a “last chance agreement” to change his behavior. The “last chance agreement” was good for two years.

The records show Ward also was involved in two other incidents the next year in 2015, including the one he was just indicted in connection to.

News Center 7’s John Bedell is working on a story about why Ward did not lose his job in 2015, even though he was at the center of two more internal investigation within the time-frame of that “last chance agreement.”  You’ll see that story beginning on News Center 7 at 6.