Ex-trooper trial: Christopher Ward takes stand in own defense

ajc.com

A verdict is expected Monday morning in the bench trial for former Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Christopher Ward, who is accused of multiple sex crimes.

  • Ward is charged with 5 counts of gross sexual imposition, 2 counts of sexual battery
  • There are six accusers, including a minor
  • Prosecutors say Ward "used his authority to sexually abuse these women"
  • Ward on Friday testified in his own defense

>> DAY 1 COVERAGE: Defendant Ward rejected plea deal for fewer criminal counts  

>> DAY 2 COVERAGE: Defendant said he was grabbing for cat when he touched girl

>> DAY 3 COVERAGE: Ex-trooper trial: Third day begins with additional testimony

Former Trooper Christopher Ward took the stand Friday and answered questions from the prosecution regarding the multiple sex crimes for which he’s been indicted and defended himself against the allegations.

He is charged with five counts of gross sexual imposition and two counts of sexual battery involving six accusers, including a minor.

The trial started on Monday with visiting Judge James Brogran presiding, and during the week the court heard testimony from accusers as prosecutor’s alleged that Ward used his position of authority to sexually abuse women.

Steve Hobbs, Ward’s defense attorney, reiterated that his client is innocent when he took the stand.

One accuser alleged that Ward had touched her inappropriately during a 2015 traffic stop on U.S. 35 in Montgomery County, something he vehemently denied while questioned by Hobbs on Friday.

Friday’s trial began with Hobbs questioning Ward’s supervisor, Sgt. Chris Colbert.

He told the court he had no previous knowledge or complaints about Ward’s conduct as a law enforcement officer.

Capt. Andrew Blevins of the Preble County Sheriff’s Office also testified. He was one of the people who interviewed one of the accusers. Ward’s wife also took the stand for questioning.

During his testimony, Ward was questioned about a traffic stop on U.S. 35, when a passenger, a former OSHP intern said she was inappropriately touched.

Ward’s wife also took the stand for questioning early this afternoon.  She told the court she met Ward when he arrested her for an OVI years ago.

Among the accusations against Ward is that he inappropriately touched a 15-year-old girl as she slept in a bed with his daughter in March 2018. In an interview with a state investigator, Ward said he was grabbing at the family cat that was on a bed and not seeking to touch the girl.

During testimony Friday, Ward said that he was just shooing away the family cat, and was not attempting anything inappropriate.

Brogan will render a verdict because Ward waived his right to a jury trial.

Ward rejected a plea deal some months ago that would have avoided the possibility of a life term in prison.

According to the state attorney general’s office, the deal would have meant lifetime registration as a sex offender and a maximum of eight years in prison. He turned down what would have had him plead guilty to a single count of sexual battery.