Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
September 10, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
REPEAT CHILD MOLESTER ABOUT TO BE RELEASED FROM PRISON CONVICTED OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING 4-YEAR-OLD MALE RELATIVE IN 1990
*Defendant was in prison a second time for molesting two other boys at time current victim disclosed assault
SANTA ANA – A repeat child molester was found guilty today of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old male relative after being released from prison two years earlier in a separate sexual assault case against another young boy. The defendant was in prison again for molesting two other boys at the time the current victim came forward. Dennis James Ward, 45, formerly of Costa Mesa, was found guilty by a jury of nine felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 with sentencing enhancements for substantial sexual conduct with a child and a prior 1985 conviction for a sexual offense. Ward faces a maximum sentence of 29 years in state prison at his sentencing on Oct. 2, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-43, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
John Doe #1 (Case # C-54833), Prior Conviction
In the summer of 1983, then 19-year-old Ward was living in Costa Mesa. On one occasion that summer, Ward went to a public park area where children frequently rode their bikes near the bluffs. John Doe #1, then 7 years old, was riding his bicycle with friends and briefly walked away into some nearby tall grass to urinate. The victim did not know Ward but recognized him from the neighborhood. Ward followed the victim into the grass and orally copulated him. The defendant then instructed John Doe #1 not to tell anyone because the victim would get in trouble.
The following summer, in August 1984, John Doe #1 went with friends to the local high school swimming pool. The victim saw Ward as he was paying to enter the pool. After swimming with his friends, John Doe #1 went into the locker room to use the bathroom. Ward approached the victim in the bathroom and orally copulated him several times, moving to different areas of the restroom to avoid being seen. Another child walked into the bathroom and witnessed the sexual assault, and Ward fled the scene.
The defendant was found guilty by a jury of four felony counts of oral copulation of a minor. He was sentenced to six years in state prison on Feb. 22, 1985, and was released on Jan. 11, 1988.
John Doe #2 (Case # 07HF2120), Current Case
After being released from state prison for molesting a young boy, Ward moved back to Costa Mesa to live with his mother. Between 1990 and 1992, Ward sexually assaulted a young male relative beginning when the child was 4 years old. On at least three occasions, Ward picked up John Doe #2 to take him to amusement parks and other daytime excursions. He then took the victim back to his Costa Mesa home and engaged in masturbation and oral copulation with the victim. The victim did not disclose the sexual assault at that time.