Arrest in kidnap, sexual assault of woman in northeast Fresno
A 25-year-old northeast Fresno nanny broke down and cried several times as she testified Monday about how a man allegedly robbed, kidnapped and sexually assaulted her last summer.
Joseph Ward is on trial in Fresno County Superior court, charged with 12 felonies, including sexual assault, robbery and kidnapping. He is facing life in prison for the alleged brutal attack in the Woodward Park-area home where the nanny worked.
The nanny, who often spoke through tears, said she was out for a morning walk June 22 with the 18-month-old she was caring for when she ran into Ward. He was walking on the other side of the street and she politely said hello. But when she made it back to the family’s home a few minutes later, Ward was walking up the driveway.
She recognized him as the man she had seen earlier — and it didn’t give her a good feeling.
He asked for water, and she immediately said no. Then he asked if she had any water inside. Feeling frightened, she reluctantly shared her water bottle with him. He poured it into his mouth, avoiding putting his lips on the bottle. After that he appeared to be leaving as she hurriedly moved towards the front door, pushing the baby in the stroller. But he came back.
“I just had a bad feeling as I was trying to get inside the house,” she testified.
He approached her again, this time asking for $20. She said no, but he persisted. He then asked to borrow her phone because his was dead. She handed him her phone, hoping he would just go away, she testified. He put it in his pocket as she calmly tried to open the door to get inside.
“I was trying to get behind the door to push him out, but I wasn’t strong enough,” she said.
Ward forced his way inside, turned towards the door and locked it.
What happened next was difficult for the nanny to talk about. She had to take a break to compose herself before telling the rest of the ordeal.
Once inside, she tried to negotiate with him to get him to leave, she said. She offered him her wallet, her debit card, and laptop computers. With the baby in her arms, she ran towards the garage to try and get away, but he stopped her by grabbing her by the arm.
She said Ward then asked her to dance for him. She refused and he threatened to hurt her if she didn’t. She relented.
“When I started to move, he started pulling my shorts down,” she said through sobs.
Ward forced her to get on the ground on all fours as he poured vegetable oil on her body, she testified. He then sexually assaulted her with his fingers.
“I was telling him to stop, but he said he was going to rape me if I didn’t,” she testified.
Ward then rummaged through the house looking for items to take. He told the nanny to open dresser drawers and pull things out because he did not want to touch anything, she testified. He asked for lingerie, but she didn’t have any. He then assaulted her again.
The nanny convinced Ward to leave the house in her car so he could get more money at a nearby ATM machine. They drove to the area of East Champlain Drive and East Perrin Avenue where they found an ATM. She got out with the baby and withdrew $200.
“I threw the money and card inside the car and ran away,” she testified. “And he drove away.”
She ran to a nearby business and police were called. Ward was arrested about a month later.
Ward’s defense attorney, Amanda Moran, has questioned whether police arrested the right man.
She brought up the fact that the nanny identified a different person when she was first shown a lineup of possible suspects. She eventually picked Ward from a lineup photos. Moran said during her opening statement last week that there is a possible suspect who has said he committed the crime.
The trial continues Tuesday.