Georgia Police Officer Convicted of Child Molestation

Kristin Matthew Ward

Georgia – A former Athens-Clarke County police officer was found guilty of child molestation Friday night following a weeklong trial in Clarke County Superior Court.

The jury also found Kristin Matthew Ward guilty of enticing a child for indecent purposes and violating his oath as a police officer, but acquitted him of the more serious charge of aggravated sexual battery.

After hearing a week’s worth of testimony, it took jurors seven hours Friday — from 4 to 11 p.m. — to reach their verdict.

“Kris still insists he is innocent,” said the former cop’s attorney, Morris “Mo” Wiltshire. “The jury worked very hard on this case and paid close attention to the evidence and I respect their decision. I am pleased that we were able to secure acquittals on the most serious count Kris faced.”

Three different juveniles had made allegations against Ward, and Wiltshire said he believed the jury convicted his client on just one count of child molestation because they felt the former officer had been engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior with the children.

“This spilt verdict means that on the aggravated sexual battery acquittal alone, Kris avoided a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years,” Wiltshire said. Ward also faced a possible maximum sentence of life in prison if he had been found guilty of all charges, including those he was acquitted of — anther count of child molestation and one count of criminal attempt to commit child molestation.

A sentencing date was not immediately set by Superior Court Judge Regina Quick, who presided over the trial.

The victim Ward was convicted of molesting claimed he was assaulted by the then-senior police officer between September 2010 and November 2011, according to court filings.

The alleged victim was said by police to have been a cadet with the Civil Air Patrol unit based at Athens-Ben Epps Airport when Ward was both a police officer and commander of the air patrol unit.

The victim came forward with his allegations against Ward in April 2015, at which time the 27-year-old officer was suspended with pay. Ward was fired after a subsequent internal affairs investigation determined he violated his oath of office and other departmental directives.

The police department referred the criminal aspects of the alleged victim’s accusations to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which found there was probable cause to arrest Ward.