Woodford coroner charged with 3 counts of sodomy

Woodford County Coroner Steve Ward was charged Wednesday with three counts of third-degree sodomy, a deputy jailer said.

Kentucky State Police arrested Ward, 54, shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, said Missie Coulter, chief deputy jailer in Woodford County.

Third-degree sodomy is a class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Ward was released after a $5,000 bond was posted on his behalf. "Someone posted it for him at the (circuit court) clerk's office," Coulter said.

She said an arrest warrant did not give details about the circumstances that led to the charges.

Trooper Ron Turley of the state police post in Frankfort said the charges are based on the allegations of a victim who was 14 at the time but is an adult now.

Ward was arrested after an indictment was handed down by a Woodford County grand jury, Turley said.

Ward had been under investigation since last fall, when state police conducted a search of Blackburn & Ward Funeral Home in Versailles.

State police searched the funeral home, coroner's office and nearby home Oct. 14. They retrieved computer equipment and software, cameras and other items from the office and residence.

Court records unsealed last fall said a computer disk contained child pornography. The disk was provided to state police in mid-October by Woodford County Deputy Coroner Danny Owens. Owens told police he had removed the disk from a computer in the coroner's office while performing his daily duties as an employee of Blackburn & Ward Funeral Home, where the coroner's office is based.

In addition to supplying police with the disk, Owens told police Ward read to him excerpts from a journal involved in a coroner's case that indicated the deceased had had sexual relationships with children and animals, according to the records.

Ward is scheduled to be arraigned March 3 in Woodford Circuit Court.

Ward has been the Woodford County coroner since 1990.

Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle said Ward is still coroner unless he resigns or is removed from office.

"There is no vacancy there," Coyle said. "I have received no information to indicate that he has resigned from his coroner's position."

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