BOUNTIFUL, Utah - A Utah labor and delivery doctor has been arrested on seven counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after authorities spent months investigating a tip about child pornography.
Dr. Nathan Ward, 55, was arrested Wednesday afternoon following a lengthy investigation into allegations revolving around child pornography.
“We arrested Nathan Ward on seven counts of sexual exportation of a minor,” said Sgt. DeAnn Servey of the Davis County Sheriff's Office.
Agents with the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force have been working the case since last fall, and the lead detective is a member of the Davis County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a statement of probable cause, Ward allegedly uploaded graphic images of nude children along with images of children and adults involved in sex acts. The images came from IP addresses, two of which were traced to St. Marks Hospital and Lake View Hospital.
Detectives also retrieved online conversations where a user later identified as Nathan Ward allegedly bragged about raping a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old. Another user identified as Ward also described desires to rape females and minors.
Based on the allegations, agents decided to arrest Ward.
"Obviously that's why we file charges, to keep the public safe and to make sure that the people who deserve to be incarcerated are incarcerated,” Servey said.
And what makes all of this even more concerning for everyone involved is that Nathan Ward is a long time OB/GYN who's been practicing for years in Davis County.
"Yes, this is something that can be very disruptive to a community, to learn that someone that they trust is under suspicion of these type of charges,” Servey said.
Megan Jeppson, a former patient of Ward's, reacted to the news.
"I was shocked and disgusted," she said of the allegations.
Jeppson said she went to see Dr. Ward after her previous doctor became unavailable.
"Something about him really left me disturbed," she said of Dr. Ward.
Another former patient, Angeli Cruz, was shocked by the arrest.
"It just blows my mind, I never thought of him being a person like that," she said. "He kinda made me feel like family, like I was safe."
Another patient did not wish to be identified but told Fox 13 News: "He was an amazing doctor. With that being said, it appears this investigation has been going on November of last year until now.. which was my entire pregnancy. I'm extremely upset that they would let him still practice while finding out about all these horrible things.. I feel violated and sick about the whole thing if all allegations are true."
Not long after his arrest, Ward was able to bail out of jail on a $100,000 bond.
The next step in the process is that they will set an arraignment for him, at which point he must appear before a judge and enter a plea to the charges.
However Detectives say this investigation is not over yet and additional charges could be forthcoming.