EATON, Ohio (WDTN) – A witness and alleged victim in the case against former Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Ward said on Thursday she was sick of the patrolman pulling her over multiple times, so she accepted a date.
She testified the date went well until he emerged from a room in the house in his state patrol uniform, grabbed her with his arms around her, and then assaulted her.
NEED TO KNOW: Day 3 of the Chris Ward trial
- Defense attorney Steve Hobbs said Ward would testify on his own behalf. Hobbs said he expected Ward’s testimony to take a while and may stretch beyond the expected end of the trial, which is Friday.
- Judge Brogan will give his opinion on Friday regarding proffered testimony that was recorded in court. The testimony was from the employer of an alleged victim who hasn’t testified.
- An undercover law enforcement officer testified on Thursday about a stop in New Lebanon that involved an alleged assault. The woman testified about the incident on Wednesday.
- A woman testified she called Ward and accepted a date in order to get him to quit pulling her over. She accused Ward of putting on his patrol uniform and assaulting her.
Get caught up on coverage of the Chris Ward trial:
- Ward Trial: Former Trooper to testify on own behalf on Friday
- Day 1: Trial begins for former Ohio State trooper accused of sex crimes
- DAY 2: Judge takes himself out of court for portion of Wednesday testimony
The witness said she was just out of high school when she was pulled over repeatedly over several months between 2007 and 2008 by a state trooper.
State prosecutors Joel King and Jennifer Reed introduced into evidence a written warning she was given by Ward, which included his name and his personal phone number.
“It didn’t dawn on me until he gave me his name and number that it was the same trooper over and over,” the witness said.
The witness said she called Ward in hopes of ending the harassment. She said they talked on the phone several times when Ward asked her on a date.
She said she drove to Ward’s house, the two went to dinner and came back. She described Ward as ‘sweet and professional’ while at dinner until they returned to his house. She said she was alarmed when he received a phone call from his daughter and began screaming angrily into the phone.
“I just remember feeling, ‘Wow,’ she said. “His face was blood red, he was screaming and yelling. I didn’t expect him to act like that.”
Ward called his daughter back and continued the angry conversation. The alleged victim said he finished the phone call, left the room and returned wearing his state patrol uniform. He embraced her putting his arms around her arms then forced his hands down the front of her pants.
“I stooped down and spun out (from him),” Ward said. “He sprung (this) on me.”
The witness said she didn’t want to go on the date with Ward, but thought he’d stop pulling her over if “she gave him what he wanted,” which she said she assumed was some of her time. She said she called him again after the date and incident.
“I called him and played him a loud, loud song,” She said. “I wanted to annoy him. I wanted to be left alone.” The witness said Ward stopped pulling her over after the date.
Ward’s attorney, Steve Hobbs, questioned the witness about a conversation that she said had with Ward. Hobbs said in an interview with an investigator she said Ward bragged about arresting a judge for OVI. Hobbs said if the timeframe for the date was 2007 to 2008, this couldn’t have happened because Ward hadn’t arrested the judge until 2009.
“You said he was bragging about pulling over a judge for DUI,” Hobbs said. “But that didn’t happen (until) 2009.”
Testimony continued into the afternoon. Lt. Joshua Davis of the state patrol as an expert witness. Davis was asked about dates and how GPS locaters worked on patrol cars as well as procedures regarding patdowns.
Former Cadet questioned over friendship, records requests involving case
A key incident in the Ward case involved a patdown of a woman in New Lebanon where she alleged Ward grabbed her forcefully between the legs three times during a stop.
The cadet intern who was on a ride-a-long with Ward was called by the defense as a witness. He wasn’t filmed and his name not given due to his current work undercover elsewhere in law enforcement.
King hammered the witness with questions about the stop. The witness said there were concerns over a weapon on her person or in the car. They were concerned because of how the victim was moving inside the vehicle before she was pulled from the car.
He noted Ward as just a co-worker and hadn’t remained in contact, but King showed phone records that the two had contacted each other 43 times during a period from March 2018 to March 2019.
King also questioned the witness why Ward recorded the driver, who was in the backseat, and not recorded the alleged victim, who was the person they believed may have been hiding drugs or a weapon. King said it was odd since he witness told the defense the victim’s pupils were dilated, and he even did a look at Ward’s pupils as a gauge. He said he thought she was under the influence of drugs. The witness said he didn’t know.
King then read a report from the Dayton post on Ward’s patrol car, stating the camera in the vehicle and recording system had the ability to record both the inside backseat and the front, yet Ward only recorded the driver who was in the backseat who wasn’t searched or a suspect, and not the person he suspected of carrying drugs and who was frisked.
Ward and the witness never searched inside the car or trunk, which the driver had consented. The witness said he would have searched the car. Ward gave the driver a written warning. The alleged victim filed a complaint at the Highway Patrol post after the traffic stop.
The undercover officer was also questioned why he did a records request for information regarding Ward’s case including statements from those involved beside himself. He said everything he had said in court was based on his own statement. King retorted, asking he could have received a copy of his own statement without having to do a records request and said reading other statements from others in the case could cloud his recollection of the incident.
Internal Affairs investigator repeatedly questioned alleged victim about going to media
Sgt. Laura Taylor, the last witness of Friday’s court session, testified about her interviews with witnesses and alleged victims in the Ward case.
Taylor is an administrative investigator for the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Internal Affairs unit.
Taylor was asked by the prosecution about her questioning of the alleged victim and her father, who was also interviewed along with his daughter.
In audio played in court, Taylor asked the alleged victim and her father: “Why didn’t you say something to the officer about being touched?”
“I was afraid to,” the woman said.
Taylor also asked two questions about why she went to the news media and did interviews.
“Why did you bring the news media into it?” Taylor asked the woman. “You make the complaint, you aren’t sure what the final result was. I don’t know what was said when you left the post (after filing a complaint), why did you go to the media?”
“I think I wanted to voice my discomfort,” the alleged victim said. “I saw how people had experiences they felt went untouched or overlooked. I was very upset and very broken. I wanted to voice what happened to me so other people would know.”
The father said he contacted local media about an interview and was told that they would not air his daughter’s interview until they contacted and got a response from the state patrol.
Testimony will resume on Friday at 9 a.m.