A psychologist who worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was convicted Friday of sex-related charges involving two young family members in La Canada Flintridge.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about three days before finding Michael Dane Ward, 45, guilty of four counts of lewd act upon a child, three counts of oral copulation of a child 10 or younger, two counts of forcible lewd act upon a child and one count of sodomy with a child 10 or younger.
The charges involved crimes between October 2013 and November 2015 when the boy and girl were each under the age of 10.
Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench ordered Ward, who had been free on bond, to be taken into custody after the jury’s verdict. Ward was led out of the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Ward is set to return to court for sentencing Oct. 19, when he is facing a potential life prison term, according to Deputy District Attorney Guillermo Santiso.
“I’m very surprised about the verdict,” one of his attorneys, George Buehler, said shortly after the jury’s decision was announced. “There was a lot of inconsistent and implausible evidence.”
He said the defense will file a motion for a new trial.
Ward — who was primarily responsible for teaching and training investigative personnel — was relieved from duty last year pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, the sheriff’s department said shortly after the case was filed. His current status with the sheriff’s department was not immediately available.
–City News Service
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