SF radio personality Bernie Ward indicted on child porn charges
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer Thursday, December 6, 2007
Bernie Ward, a popular liberal San Francisco radio talk show host and former Catholic priest, has been indicted on federal child pornography charges, authorities said today. Ward, 56, surrendered to federal authorities earlier today but the specifics of the allegations against him are under seal, officials said. Ward hosts a nightly news talk program on KGO 810 AM as well as GodTalk on Sundays. He had been a priest with the Society of the Precious Blood order. The radio station's Web site said that he was indicted on two counts of child pornography using the Internet. Ward's attorney said today that the charges are based on incidents that occurred more than four years ago and were part of research for a book. "As everybody knows, Bernie, for over 20 years, has been a progressive, opposed to insensitive authority - he has been a champion of charities, nonprofits for the homeless," said Doron Weinberg, who appeared in federal court today as Ward's lawyer. "More than three years ago, Bernie was doing research for a book he was doing on hypocrisy in America," Weinberg said.
As part of the research, Ward downloaded "a few images" of child pornography, and, Weinberg said, "it came to the attention of the government in late 2004." "They investigated and they never found any involvement in child pornography other than this period that he accessed these images," Weinberg said. "The government knows that Bernie was doing this for an investigation he was doing for a book. But the government believes he violated the letter of the law and they have gone ahead and prosecuted him." Weinberg stressed that "the fact that these events happened three years ago and they are just being prosecuted shows the fact that nobody believes that he is a child predator." "He is just being prosecuted for a mistake he made (more than) three years ago," the lawyer said. Federal authorities seized Ward's computer in early 2005 and there was no evidence of child pornography or any other impropriety, Weinberg added. "We have been trying to convince the government that his is not something they should proceed with. They said, 'He violated the law, sorry.' " A statement from KGO's operations director said, "Ward has been a valued, long-time employee of KGO Radio. We were just recently made aware of these serious charges and are surprised and concerned by their nature. "As the matter is currently pending in federal court, we will have no additional comment at this time."