After meeting a 14-year-old girl at ImaginOn in Charlotte, a 40-year-old North Carolina man reportedly lured her to a nearby hotel room with promises of alcohol and is now facing statutory rape and indecent liberties charges, two counts of each sex offense. According to police, Stephen Ward also photographed his encounter with the teenage girl and admitted to snapping at least 15 photos that were sexual in nature of the young female.
Ward reportedly dropped the teen off near her home after her mother phoned. At some point, the mother learned of the activity and confronted Ward he claims. Shortly after that confrontation, he deleted the photos of the nude teen from his laptop’s hard drive.
Charlotte police apprehended Ward at La Casa Hotel after the child rape was reported. During the course of the investigation, Ward allegedly admitted to taking explicit photographs of other young women in addition to the 14-year-old involved in the statutory rape case.
It is likely, although it has not yet been reported, that Ward’s personal computer was seized during the search of his home and additional charges may be forthcoming after a forensic search of its contents. Ward had also noted that he had saved images to a flash drive; investigators likely searched for that as well while at his home.
Creating and distributing child pornography is a separate sex offense in North Carolina. It is also unknown whether Ward distributed any of the images that he took of the underage females.
Ward’s bond was set at $150,000; he was booked into the Mecklenburg County Jail.
Source: WCNC, “CMPD: Man raped, explicitly photographed girl, 14,” July 2, 2013