A U.S. Navy sailor is being investigated for possession of child pornography after dozens of images were discovered of young girls engaged in explicit acts, some of which prosecutors believe were taken at or near the sailor's San Diego home.
Petty Officer 1st Class John Christian Ward was arrested on charges of child pornography possession on Nov. 16. According to a complaint obtained by NBC 7, an investigation into Ward found more than 100 images uploaded to the social media site Google+ of real and animated minors engaging in explicit acts, including images of a child under the age of 12.
Ward pleaded not guilty in court to all charges, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Investigators were first alerted to the photos in May 2017, after Google notified San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children (SDICAC) that suspicious images had been uploaded to their site on eight dates from May 2015 to April 2017, according to the complaint.
Google also identified Ward as owning the email address that uploaded the images, the complaint said.
On Nov. 8, a completed federal search of Ward's Google+ account revealed more than 100 images of child pornography, some of which were uploaded during the investigation.
Most of the images were of minors engaged in sexual acts that had already been recorded in the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children, however, at least two victims in the images were new.
Using the images' metadata, investigators determined several of the photos had been taken either at or near Ward's home in the Birdland neighborhood of San Diego, the complaint said.
Ward was taken into custody after a federal search of his home, during which no computers or hard drives were discovered with images of child exploitation, according to the complaint.
Neighbors told NBC 7 on that day they were shocked to see about 30 agents raiding a home in their close-knit community.
They said Ward and his family moved into the neighborhood about two years ago and described him as unfriendly and standoffish.
The Navy said it is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
“We take these kinds of charges seriously and we will cooperate with the appropriate agencies,” Navy spokesperson Brian O’Rourke said in a statement.
Ward is scheduled to appear in federal court for a preliminary hearing next week.