Utah doctor accused of sex abuse now faces federal child porn charges

SALT LAKE CITY (KSTU) -- Federal prosecutors have leveled charges against a Bountiful doctor accused of sexual abuse and a Lehi man accused of trading child pornography with him.

Dr. Nathan Ward, 55, was indicted on three separate charges of production, possession and distribution of child pornography.  A federal grand jury also indicted Robert Edwin Francis, 41, accusing him of discussing "sexually abusing and sharing sexually explicit photos of children."

Images were also shared between email accounts linked to Dr. Ward and Francis, prosecutors confirmed to FOX 13.

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Dr. Ward made an initial appearance in federal court last week as the indictment was unsealed. Court records show he pleaded "not guilty" and was ordered to remain in jail without bail.

Dr. Ward's defense attorney, Ed Brass, declined to comment on the new charges when contacted by FOX 13 on Tuesday.

Francis also pleaded not guilty to charges, court records indicate.

The Davis County doctor is already accused of multiple sexual abuse crimes in state court.  Ward, a prominent OB/GYN, practiced in Bountiful at Lakeview Hospital.

The cases were discussed on Tuesday at a news conference by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI. Federal authorities said they handle dozens of cases a year, but were concerned that Utahns were reluctant to talk about exploitation and Internet safety with their children.

"I worry in our community this is such an ugly topic we pretend it’s not there. Well, it is, and our children are the targets of pedophiles and perpetrators," said U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber.

Children are often contacted in social media apps or in online chats and duped into sending explicit pictures of themselves.

"Kids with smartphones who believe they are talking and chatting with somebody else who is 12 years old and 14 years old and that person asks them to send a picture of a sex act and their body and they do it. That’s the first mistake," said Steve Cagen with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Those images are then shared and re-shared amongst people "like baseball cards." There is no one typical predator, authorities said.

"We have arrested millionaire businessmen and we have arrested the unemployed. Teachers, doctors, public safety officials, day care owners, camp counselors. What they all have in common is this same heinous crime," said Eric Barnhart, the Resident Agent-in-Charge of the Salt Lake City field office of the FBI.

Huber said parents have a right to know what apps their children are using, their passwords and who they are talking to online.

"That seems a stretch to say my 12 year-old has a privacy right against me as a parent to protect their privacy," he said. "No. Parents need to assert their role and protect their child."

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