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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sex

Defendant faces up to 30 years in federal prison and up to life on federal supervised release

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Donald E. Ward, 59, of Logan, Ohio pled guilty today to traveling in interstate commerce in order to engage in illicit sexual activity with a minor, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  

“We’re working with our law enforcement partners as hard and as fast as possible to identify and prosecute those who troll the internet to prey on minors,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “My intention is to lock up the monsters that prey on our children and families.”

Ward admitted that beginning in January 2019 he began communicating via a social media application and text message with a minor he believed to be a 14-year-old girl in Parkersburg, West Virginia. On February 13, 2019, Ward traveled from Ohio to Parkersburg in order to meet the minor to engage in sexual activity, including oral sex. Only then did Ward discover that the minor was actually an undercover law enforcement officer.

Ward faces up to 30 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on September 11, 2019. Upon his release from prison, he will be required to serve a term of supervised release of at least five years and up to life. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

The investigation was conducted by the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia States Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Parkersburg Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

 

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated June 19, 2019