Ward Pleads Guilty To Production Of Child Pornography Faces Up To 30 Years In Prison With 15-Year Mandatory Minimum
SALT LAKE CITY – Nathan Clark Ward, age 56, of Bountiful, pleaded guilty to production of child pornography Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court, admitting that he used a smart phone to stream several live videos from his home in Bountiful to Robert Francis in Lehi between June 2013 and August 2015.
Ward admitted that in some of the videos he lifted the shirt of a minor and in others pulled down the minor’s pants.
The maximum potential penalty for the conviction is 30 years in prison with a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson, who presided at the hearing, set sentencing in the case for May 31, 2018. Ward remains in federal custody.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment in September 2017 charging Ward with production of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and distribution of child pornography. The case started with a tip reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that an individual had uploaded sexually explicit images of children to the internet. Further investigation showed the user was in the Salt Lake City metro area. NCMEC forwarded the case to the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for further investigation. The Davis County Sheriff’s Office, an ICAC affiliate agency, subsequently took the lead investigating the case.
The investigation of the Ward case led law enforcement officers to Robert Edwin Francis, age 41, of Lehi, Utah. Francis is serving 144 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to receipt of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson imposed the sentence Jan. 22, 2018. Francis was charged with production, receipt, and possession of child pornography in an indictment returned in August 2017. Francis admitted he engaged in sexually explicit conduct involving children via an on-line social network and that he possessed at least 150 but fewer than 300 images of child pornography.
Ward and Francis represent two of 41 child exploitation cases filed by federal prosecutors in Utah during 2017. Several local, state, and federal Utah law enforcement agencies contributed to the case. These prosecutions are part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan D. Lyon of the Davis County Attorney’s Office and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Drew Yeates and Andrea Martinez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the cases. Special agents and officers from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Utah ICAC Task Force are investigating these cases.