Sheriff’s department psychologist from La Canada Flintridge guilty of child molestation

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s Department psychologist from La Canada Flintridge could face life in prison after a jury convicted him Friday of sexually abusing two young relatives over more than two years, authorities said.
A Los Angeles County jury convicted Michael Dane Ward, 45, of four counts of committing lewd acts on a child, two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child under 14, three counts of oral copulation of a child under 10 and one count of sodomy of a child under 10, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials announced in a written statement.
“Sentencing is set for Oct. 19, when Ward faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison,” according to the statement. The jury deliberated for three days before finding Ward guilty.
Should Ward ever be released from prison, he is expected to be required to register as a sex offender, district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said.
Ward’s crimes took place between October of 2014 and March of 2016, prosecutors said at the time. His victims were both family members: a then-9-year-old boy and a then-10-year-old girl. Both victims testified against him at trial.
He was employed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a psychologist at the time of his arrest. His specific duties within the department were not available, but sheriff’s officials said he was not a sworn deputy.
In a statement issued in the days following Ward’s arrest, the sheriff’s department described the allegations as “deeply troubling.”
“These allegations were not as a result of contacts he made within the scope of his work with the Sheriff’s Department,” according to the statement.
Ward was relieved of duty the same day he was arrested on May 5, 2016, sheriff’s officials added.
Ward posted $2 million bail 12 days after his May 5, 2016 arrest and had remained free pending the trial process, Los Angeles County booking records show.
Following the jury’s verdict on Friday, he was immediately remanded into custody without bail pending his sentencing in October in the Los Angeles branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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