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Bountiful doctor makes first court appearance on child sex abuse charges

FARMINGTON — A popular Bountiful doctor accused of sexually abusing two young girls and viewing child pornography made his initial court appearance Friday.

Nathan Clark Ward, 55, appeared briefly in 2nd District Court where about a dozen supporters lined the first two rows. Handcuffed and in a striped jail uniform, Ward waived a reading of the charges against him and asked that a bail hearing be scheduled for next week. He is currently being held without bail.

Ward's attorney, Ed Brass, left the hearing without comment.

Ward is accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 2012 in Davis County, and of sexually abusing a girl — described in court documents only as "a minor female" with whom Ward "occupied a position of special trust" — between 2012 and 2015.

Charging documents also say that "between January and September 2016, (Ward) possessed, viewed or shared at least six images of child pornography."

Ward is charged with sodomy on a child, aggravated sex abuse of a child and forcible sodomy, all first-degree felonies; plus two counts of forcible sex abuse and six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, all second-degree felonies.

Ward, who has been in practice for more than 25 years, specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. He was suspended from Lakeview Hospital following his arrest last month, part of an investigation by the Davis County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

In his original arrest, a police affidavit states that Ward was being investigated for online conversations in which he allegedly discussed raping young girls, ages 13 and 15, and "describes desires to rape females and minors."

The investigation into Ward began in November of 2016 when possible sexually exploitative images of children were detected being uploaded at Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, the report states.

The investigation uncovered an email address that was created in 2002 in Idaho that was allegedly linked to Ward. Investigators found that the email account owner "engaged in several conversations online by instant messenger and email as well as Craigslist ads. The conversations are explicit in nature," deputies wrote.

Ward returns to court Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.