Ohio Man Sentenced for Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sex
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Logan, Ohio man was sentenced to prison for a federal sex offense, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Donald E. Ward, 59, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for traveling in interstate commerce in order to engage in illicit sexual activity with a minor. Following his release from prison, Ward will serve a term of five years of supervised release after completing his prison sentence and will be required to register as a sex offender.
“Protecting West Virginia’s youth is a priority of my office,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “These are absolutely egregious crimes. I will continue to focus the efforts of my office to protect our children and other vulnerable populations. Predators who seek to take advantage of those that are weaker or vulnerable, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ward previously admitted that 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.
The West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Parkersburg Police Department conducted the investigation. United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is handling the prosecution.
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.