SEQUIM — A Sequim man charged with seven counts of child rape has pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
Anthony Ward, 38, pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation and second-degree child rape before he was sentenced to 136 months Oct. 22 in Whatcom County Superior Court in Bellingham.
He was sentenced to state Department of Corrections community custody for life.
A count of second-degree child rape and four counts of third-degree child rape were dismissed.
Ward repeatedly raped the girl from when she was 9 until she was 13 years old, asking her afterward “to pray for him because he was trying to get better,” according to the probable cause statement. He began molesting her when she was 7, according to the statement.
Ward, who has no criminal history, is a former manager of a Sequim Taco Bell and a table games dealer at 7 Cedars Casino, according to a pre-sentence investigation report.
He did not make a statement in court at his sentencing, according to court records, but is “remorseful,” according to Community Corrections Officer Austin Booth, who compiled a pre-sentence report.
“I recognize that it is all my fault,” Ward told Booth. “The pain I caused to her … is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.
“I cried my eyes out when she said it was both of our faults.
“I recognize both forms of punishment are necessary.”
The girl, now 17, considers herself a “survivor,” according to Booth’s interview with her.
She struggles with low self-esteem, clinical depression, suicidal ideation, panic attacks and excessive eating.
She has scratched herself with her fingernails on purpose to draw blood, according to the report.
She no longer trusts men who are not in her family and mistrusts authority and male teachers.
“I asked her what she would like the judge to know; she said ‘He [Ward] is manipulative. He knows how to say certain things that sound really good, but he doesn’t really mean them,’ ” Booth said in the report.
“I know it’s not right, but, like, I just, the one thing is, like, I didn’t want him to go to jail for 10 to 15 years for it, but, like, when he did it, like afterwards, and I felt gross, you know, like disgusted with myself, so, like, yeah.”
Booth said the girl initially reported the abuse in 2016 and recanted quickly, which “shows how damaging Anthony’s behavior has been.”
She told a state Child Protective Services worker and a detective that she denied the abuse because she was worried about being treated differently by her friends “and thought if people found out, they would not want to be in a relationship with her,” according to the report.
“Ward claimed he only sexually assaulted [the girl] when he was stressed and implored her to pray for him to ‘… get better,’ ” Booth said.
“He manipulated and harassed [the girl] until she provided him with sexual favors,” Booth said. “His reasons for admitting guilt and seeking help must be viewed critically; either he is truly remorseful or this is another manipulation on his part.”
Booth said Ward’s offenses “are serious in nature and the harm to his victims cannot be understated.”
The girl told authorities in June 2017 that Ward began sexually abusing her in 2009 when she was 7 and living in another state, according to the probable cause statement.
The rapes continued after she moved to Sequim in 2010 and to Blaine in 2015, according to the statement.
Ward, who has three years of college and studied sociology, said he grew up in the Watts section of Los Angeles during the 1980s with more than 20 family members living under one roof, according to the pre-sentence report.
Many of them were addicted to crack cocaine, and they lived in a neighborhood controlled by the Bloods Gang.
Ward said he was sexually abused as a child by an older male cousin, according to the report.
He was arrested on the child rape charges while living in Blaine.
Ward was arrested after a friend of the victim told a Child Protective Services worker about the rapes.
Ward was living in Sequim as of April.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.