CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Jeffrey Lee Ward Jr., 31, of Bellaire, Ohio, was sentenced today to five years in prison, to be followed by 20 years of supervised release, for 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 was previously convicted of pandering obscenity involving a minor in Belmont County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court on May 18, 2015, and failure to register as a sex offender in Nicholas County, West Virginia, Magistrate Court on September 1, 2021.
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, and the Parkersburg Police Department.
United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald prosecuted 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.