Bernie Ward

Bernie Ward
Bernie Ward
Birth name Bernard Vincent Ward
Born April 5, 1951 (1951-04-05) (age 60)
San Francisco, California, USA, North America
Style Talk show
Country United States

Bernie Ward (born Bernard Vincent Ward on April 5, 1951) is a former American radio personality. Formerly a radio talk show host with KGO 810 AM in San Francisco, California,[1] Ward is now serving a seven-year prison sentence for the online distribution of child pornography. Ward, once billed by KGO as "The Lion of the Left" and "unabashedly liberal,"[2] was the host of the daily news talk program, The Bernie Ward Show, and the three-hour program, GodTalk, on Sunday mornings.[3] In December 2007, Ward was dismissed from KGO following his federal grand jury child-pornography indictment.[4][5] Subsequently, in a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, Ward admitted to a single felony charge of distributing child pornography and signed an admission of distributing between 15 and 150 images via email.[6]



Bernie Ward was born in San Francisco, California, USA[4] where he attended Holy Name Grammar School, St. Ignatius High School, and the University of San Francisco. He then studied for three years at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, obtaining a Theology degree in 1977.[4] He was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood with the Society of the Precious Blood the same year,[3][7] but left the priesthood after two years.

Ward later taught theology at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, California and its sister school, Ursuline High School. It was at Ursuline in 1978 that allegations of Ward's sexual misconduct first began to surface.[8] Ward also taught at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California.[4] In 1981, he relocated to Washington, DC where he taught at the Georgetown Preparatory School, a private Jesuit Roman Catholic high school, while his wife attended medical school. Ward later worked for then-Representative Barbara Boxer from 1982 to 1985.

Radio talk show host

Ward's employment at KGO (AM) began in 1985 where he served as a fill-in talk show host, a general assignment reporter, and later as a political talk show host starting in 1992.[4] As a reporter, where Jerry Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle noted on October 25, 1995, that it had become a ritual for the mayor at that time, Art Agnos, to denounce him for lies at the beginning of every news conference. Ward also went on to host "God Talk," a show on the topic of religion and its related topics.[3][7]

Briefly in 1996, Ward's talk show was nationally syndicated until his ratings declined.[9] His show's ratings began to improve in 1997 in Ward's core demographic group (women ages 25 to 54) as a result of his more lenient views on topics such as child-rearing and ethics. On October 5, 1997, a rumor that KGO was discontinuing Bernie Ward's contract effective at the end of the month was published by the San Francisco Chronicle.[10] In protest, supporters of his show flooded the KGO studios with canned food donations, continuing a seven-year Thanksgiving fundraising drive started by Ward that had netted more than $1 million in donations shared by the St. Anthony Foundation and two other area charities.[9] The protest culminated in a noon time rally staged in front of the KGO studios.[11] KGO management reversed their decision and renewed Ward's contract.[12]

On December 31, 2007, Bernie Ward was fired from KGO because of his indictment on child pornography charges.[3]

Child pornography conviction

On September 20, 2007,[13] Ward was indicted by a grand jury on two federal counts of Attempting to Distribute and one count of Receiving child pornography via the internet from December 2004 to January 2005.[13] The police investigation of Ward originated with a complaint from a Stanislaus County homemaker who was posing online as a dominatrix under the screenname "Sexfairy2005" and who had engaged in online chats with Ward.[14][15] According to the police report, Ward sent pornographic images of children to the chat partner, which caused her to contact police. The police began collecting evidence with her help and continued chat sessions with Ward. In the chat logs (found here [1]), Ward also described sexual activity with his own children.[16] Ward and his children both later told investigators that none of the activities described in the chats ever actually occurred.

In a statement, Ward's attorney did not dispute engaging in the chats or transmitting the photos but instead claimed Ward was role-playing with the dominatrix in part for research on a book about hypocrisy in America.[3][4][15] Federal investigators could find no evidence that Ward was working on such a book. Ward's attorney claimed that federal authorities found no illegal images on his computer, which they seized in early 2005.[4][17] However, after police obtained a search warrant for Ward's online account, they found about 100 images of child pornography in his AOL email account on AOL's servers which had been opened and forwarded, with sexual activity involving children.

On May 8, 2008, Ward announced an agreement to plead guilty to one count of Distribution of Child Pornography in exchange for the dropping of two additional counts of Possession and Distribution. In his plea agreement, Ward admits that he transmitted child pornography "between 15 and 150 times." Under federal statute, Ward could have been sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison.[18][19] The Department of Justice requested he be sentenced to nine years in prison.[20]

On August 28, 2008, Judge Vaughn Walker sentenced Ward to seven years and three months in Federal prison. Judge Walker agreed to Ward's request that he be allowed to serve his time in the Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc, to which the U.S. Attorney raised no objection. Judge Walker commented that Ward's alleged sexual misconduct while serving as a priest may go to character, but that the events happened too long ago to be relevant to his sentencing decision. He also said that he was not convinced sending Ward to prison is the best way to deal with an individual with such problems and that "very little good has come out of all this." Ward told Judge Walker that he took full responsibility for his actions and said, "I regret my actions, the harm they caused my family, my friends, and this community."

With good behavior Ward's sentence of 87 months will be reduced by 15 percent, making him eligible for Supervised Release on December 21, 2014; there is no parole in the Federal system. When Ward is released, California's Megan's Law will require him to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement for life.[21][22]

Ward is now serving his sentence at the Lompoc Low Security Federal Correctional Facility (FCI) as inmate # 90569-111.[23]

Post conviction activities

After entering the prison system, Ward has created a blog, under his radio moniker The Lion of the Left at

Personal beliefs


On March 16, 1996, Ward discussed the confrontational tactics of the group ACT-UP at a mosque, describing the group as a "collection of non-partisan individuals committed to direct action to end AIDS."[24] He stated that "homosexuals had a good cause to make (against the Catholic Church)," and claimed that the church encouraged homophobia and homophobic actions. The church denied this, stating that they did not encourage homophobia or resistance against homosexuals, but merely taught that homosexual sex, because it is outside a marriage between a man and a woman, was immoral.

On December 9, 1996, Ward stated that Christianity was "morally superior" to Judaism because it was based on unconditional forgiveness. He offered apologies on his radio show on December 17 and again on the following day, the first being dismissed by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the second being accepted. Ward insisted that he did not have a problem with any individual religion, only with fundamentalists.[25] He later compared fundamentalist Orthodox Judaism with Nazism on September 12, 2001 but offered an apology the following day.[25]

Iraq war

On September 30, 2002, Ward appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer and discussed possible military action against Iraq. He commented about Saddam Hussein: "Hussein has not shown any threat to anyone" and that the "Kurds were prospering very well in the north even as al Qaeda has used some of their connections with the Kurds."[26]


Among the causes and groups Ward supported were the Center for American Progress, Common Dreams, the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, and Democracy Now.

He also led a pledge drive for Thanksgiving Charities every year, which supported four charities in the San Francisco Bay Area:[7] Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose, St. Anthony's Foundation in San Francisco, St. Vincent De Paul dining room in Oakland, and Fresh Start in Walnut Creek. The charity drive began in the late 1980s and raised over $4 million in the following decades. Ward was also an active participant in the KGO leukemia cure-a-thon, which has raised over $13 million for research into leukemia and lymphoma causes.


Ward received the Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Journalism for his investigative journalism in a 10-part series, Heaven Help Us, which explored allegations of financial and sexual misconduct of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.[7] He has also won numerous national awards, such as an Associated Press award for coverage of the Los Angeles riots of 1992.[4]


  1. ^ Egelko, Bob (2008-08-22). "9 years urged for radio host in porn case". The San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  2. ^ Michels, Scott (11 December 2007). "Talk Radio Host Indicted on Child Porn Charges". ABC News. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Doyle, Jim (23 January 2008). "Ward's fans want him back on the air". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Derbeken, Jaxon; Elizabeth Fernandez (7 December 2007). "Talk show host Ward charged with Internet kiddie porn". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  5. ^ Doyle, Jim (2008-01-23). "Bernie Ward fired from KGO radio". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  6. ^ "Bernie Ward Offers Guilty Plea In Child Porn Case". CBS5 Local News (KPIX TV). 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-08-23 [dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d "Bernie Ward". KGO (AM). Archived from the original on 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  8. ^ Sexual complaints against Bernie Ward date back to priesthood |
  9. ^ a b Salter, Stephanie (26 October 1997). "The canning of Bernie Ward (a radio drama)". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  10. ^ Morse, Rob (5 October 1997). "When in doubt, punt a pundit". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  11. ^ Carroll, Jerry (30 October 1997). "LIVELY ARTS -- Long Lunch, Long Night". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  12. ^ Carroll, Jerry (4 November 1997). "LIVELY ARTS -- Graceful Play by Miller". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ Dan Noyes (2008-05-15). ""Sexfairy" reveals herself, speaks to I-Team". ABC7 News. 
  15. ^ a b Lee, Henry (15 February 2008). "Police report says Bernie Ward sent child-porn pictures to dominatrix". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  16. ^ ""Inside Bernie Ward's online chats". 14 February 2008. 
  17. ^ ""Trial Set For Radio Host Bernie Ward On Child Porn Charges". 24 January 2008. 
  18. ^ Egelko, Bob (2008-05-08). "Ex-talk show host Bernie Ward admits to distributing child pornography". The San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  19. ^ "Bernie Ward to Plead Guilty". 5 May 2008. 
  20. ^ "Sentencing Memorandum of the United States" (PDF). Department of Justice, Criminal Division. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  21. ^ Egelko, Bob (2008-08-28). "Bernie Ward sentenced to seven-plus years for child-porn conviction". SFGate. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  22. ^ Moss, Alex (2008-08-29). "Ex-Radio Host Bernie Ward gets 7 Years for Child Porn". Sentry Parental Controls. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  23. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator". US Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  24. ^ Goldsmith, Aleza (May 1996). "Bernie Ward show defames Catholicism". Catalyst. Archived from the original on 2006-10-06. 
  25. ^ a b Goldsmith, Aleza (21 September 2001). "KGO Radio's Bernie Ward apologizes to Jews". Jewish News Weekly. 
  26. ^ "Radio Talk Show Hosts Debate Iraq". CNN. 30 September 2002. 

External links

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