Ohio Sex Offender Pleads Guilty to Sex Offense Against Minor
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Jeffrey Lee Ward Jr., 31, of Bellaire, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to traveling in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on February 4, 2022, Ward traveled from Ohio to Parkersburg, West Virginia, to meet an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old girl in order to engage in sexual activity, including sexual intercourse. Ward had been communicating with the individual via an instant messaging app. Ward used the app to send a photo of his genitalia to the individual. When Ward showed up at their arranged meeting location, he was arrested.
Ward is scheduled to be sentenced on December 5, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, five years to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) West Virginia Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force, the West Virginia State Police, the Parkersburg Police Department.
United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Rada Herrald is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:22-cr-51.