EATON, Ohio (WDTN) – Former Ohio State Highway Patrol officer Chris Ward testified that he wasn’t guilty of the seven sex-related charges against him on Friday, Dec. 13 at Preble County Common Pleas Court.
Ward and Steve Hobbs, his attorney, went through each of the charges against him and made his case that he hadn’t committed any assaults, with Hobbs saying there was a lack of evidence that each of the assaults and encounters happened.
Judge James Brogan said he would render a verdict in the case on Monday after he had time to review exhibits and evidence.
In closing arguments, Special Prosecutor Joel King pounded at Ward’s lack of memory of events. He said there was a pattern to all of the alleged victims who came forward – they were assaulted on the highway, they were young, and they had previous records except for a minor he’s charged with assaulting during a sleepover.
“His defense relies on laundry and a cat,” King said. “He remembers so much intricate detail of this at. But he couldn’t remember if he was drinking, what he said to daughters. It’s convenient he knows cat so distinctly.”
Hobbs said Ward was only in court because of domestic issues with his ex-wife.
“What we have is a case that got started because of a custody battle,” Hobbs said. “The idea of touching someone is a use of force, you would have to find everyone guilty of a use of force.”
Reed emotionally argued that the evidence showed Ward guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
“There’s corroborating evidence in all of these charges – every single one,” Reed said. “There’s power in the uniform and it’s supposed to be good power. To acquit, you would have to believe that every single one of these women and a child – who don’t know each other – were in on this because of a custody battle. A custody battle where the children were allowed to go to each parents’ home whenever they wanted. These girls don’t give up their rights as humans if they consent to a patdown.”
What to know about Ward trial
- Judge Brogan will render a verdict in the case on Monday
- Chris Ward testifies in own defense at trial, offering counters to claims from other witnesses during defense examination
- Shannon Ward, the former state trooper’s wife, testified she met Ward when she was 20, during a traffic stop
- The Preble County Sheriff’s captain who interviewed one of the victims testified, as well as an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer as an expert witness on GPS location maps of his patrol car during an escort of a wide-load
Continuing Coverage of Trial
- DAY 3: Witness says Ward assaulted her after putting on his patrol uniform following date
- DAY 2: Middletown man testifies that employee was assaulted by Ward
- DAY 1: Minor testifies she was assaulted during sleepover
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Reed had a heated cross-examination with Ward.
Reed asked Ward if he recalled being investigated by Jobs and Family Services. Ward, confused said no, then Reed showed a packet of documents. She said Ward had been investigated after letting a 12-year-old child drive home from a restaurant after he had four beers during dinner.
Ward had said he considered a former cadet-intern a co-worker and hadn’t seen him since he was with his post. The cadet-intern, who is now an undercover officer was not identified, testified that he only knew of Ward as a co-worker, but it was revealed the two had communicated 43 times from March 2018 to March 2019 during testimony in the trial. Reed asked Ward if they were friends, why had they discussed Ward visiting him in a vacation spot. Ward said they had, and Reed countered by asking if he did this with all his former co-workers at the Dayton Post. Ward said he didn’t know.
The state took issue with Ward’s claim he didn’t know how to work the camera in his
Defense gives Ward’s case
Ward testified that he was trying to remove a cat from a bed the night he’s accused of inappropriately touching a minor who was staying the night at his home.
Ward testified in his own defense on Friday, Dec. 13 in Preble County Common Pleas Court. He’s facing five charges of gross sexual imposition and two charges of sexual battery from seven women over the course of 10 years, all but one allegedly occurring while he was on duty.
He testified he drank “three to four beers” the night the minor stayed at his house. He spoke to the minor and one of his children following an argument with a friend who came over to play pool in March 2018. He later went inside to explain what happened.
He said he later went to do laundry and heard the family cat in the room the minor was sleeping in. He said he moved the cat off the bed where the minor and another female were sleeping and wasn’t aware if he touched her.
In testimony on Tuesday, the minor in the case said she woke several times to Ward having his hands on her inappropriately, including having his hands down her underwear. The other minor testified she told Ward to leave the room and said he had been sleeping in there.
Another witness testified that she was forced to perform a sex act on Ward outside of the Dayton post’s District 5 area. Ward was out of the area working to escort an over-sized truckload to the Pennsylvania border. Defense Attorney Steve Hobbs went over GPS maps that showed locations of Ward’s cruiser. He said Ward wasn’t on the same part of the highway.
Ward said during a New Lebanon traffic stop, he suspected an alleged victim had pills or heroin in pill form on her person, which are hard and oval-shaped.
“My question to her was, what do you have in your crotch,” Ward said. “She said she didn’t have anything.”
Cross-examination of Ward by state prosecutors is expected to happen later today.
Wife testifies in husband’s defense
Shannon Ward testified that she first met former Trooper Ward when he pulled her over for OVI when she was 20 years old.
The couple began dating later in 2008 and were married a year later in 2009. She testified she did send a text to Ward after more alleged victims had came forward and more charges were filed against him.
She texted her husband about inappropriate things she had said or texted to her daughter from their first marriage. She mentioned a photo he sent of a woman who was naked but covered in whip cream. She also complained about him walking into her daughter’s room without knocking.
Preble County Sheriff’s Office Captain Andrew Blevins testified about interviewing the minor in the case and her mother.
Blevins said the mother said the daughter did not want to talk about the incident but came into the station later that day to conduct an interview.
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