Jefferson Ward: From petty cons to rape charges

Jefferson Ward strolled into The Hook offices a year ago with an inspirational tale about himself. He said he was a former UVA football player who had overcome cancer against serious odds.

Only Ward, who was actually 10 years older than the 34 he claimed to be, not only never played football for UVA, but his real name is Jeffrey, not Jefferson, according to family members.

Ward's latest media coverage is even less inspiring. On December 27, he was arrested and is being held without bond in Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail on charges of drugging and raping an acquaintance.

The woman claimed that she ran into Ward at Club 216, according to a police search warrant affidavit. In the early hours of December 27, she says, he invited her to his apartment for a "party" at which she was the only guest.

Ward offered the woman what he said was Ecstasy, a drug she "willfully ingested," according to the affidavit. After taking the substance, the woman "began to feel funny." She told police she'd taken Ecstasy before, but the drug Ward offered did not have the same effect.

When she awakened, she found her clothes in disarray and Ward having sex with her. The woman claims she tried to get him to stop and attempted to hit him with her right hand, but because she was incapacitated from the substance he'd given her, her attempt was "ineffective," the search warrant affidavit states. She passed out again with Ward continuing to have intercourse with her.

The woman told police that at no time did she discuss, consent, or expect to have sexual intercourse with Ward, that she did not want to have sex with him, and that she tried to get him to stop.

Police arrested Ward around 10pm December 27. Among items removed from his Wertland Street apartment were a bottle of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, a silver and glass smoking device, a slipcover and seat cushions from a loveseat, and two plastic pill bottles.

Police decline to comment on what drug Ward allegedly may have given the woman, but Rohypnol, known as "roofies," is a drug used in date rapes because it sedates, relaxes muscles, impairs psychomotor responses, and may cause amnesia.

The rape is not the only felony charge Ward faces. At the time of the alleged assault he was free on $7,500 bond from a July 9 felonious assault charge for allegedly hitting a man in the head with a bottle at the U-4 lot on Wertland Street. And he has a long list of bad check charges pending in Charlottesville General District Court.

Ward's attorney in the public defender's office did not return calls by press time.

Mac Sloan, manager of Sloan's, where Ward briefly worked, is one of those trying to collect on a bad check. "The first day I met him, I knew he was a bad egg," says Sloan.

A policeman for 30 years, Sloan says he's not surprised by the rape charge. In fact, he'd called police because of Ward's resemblance to a composite drawing of the serial rapist.

Police say Ward is not a suspect in those assaults. "I am absolutely certain he's not connected with the serial rapist," says Sergeant Richard Hudson of the Charlottesville police.

DJ Rushhour is out $300 because Ward paid him by check for an event Ward organized at the Garden of Sheba restaurant and dance venue around Thanksgiving. Rushhour says the check was written on a closed account.

"I can see how you could misjudge how much money is in your checking account, but to write a check on a closed account?" he asks.

Rushhour was surprised about the rape charge. "I could see him writing bad checks, but I didn't think I'd see him on TV for sexual assault," he says.

Ward enjoyed a brief career as DJ Twist on WNRN, where he had worked once a week for the past six months.

"He has a compulsion to fabricate," observes WNRN general manager Mike Friend. "He's a bullshit artist... and he moves right in on somebody's female."

Friend describes how Ward told him he used to work at WHUR at Howard University. "They'd never heard of him," says Friend. "He can barely run the board here at the radio station, and I could tell from the kind of questions he asked that he'd never worked in radio before."

Nevertheless, Friend calls Ward's improvement over three months "impressive." But don't expect to hear him on the air anytime soon. "This is a serious charge," says Friend. "We need to let the legal system go ahead." Then there is the fact that Ward's in jail without bond.

"I guess every small town has one ne'er-do-well," muses Friend. "You have to wonder why he's still in Charlottesville. You'd think he'd be somewhere bigger where everybody doesn't know him."

But, adds Friend, "He's not unlikable. Most con artists aren't."

Another WNRN DJ, Jaz Tupelo, is not impressed by Ward's affability.

"I don't trust him any farther than I can spit, and I haven't from day one," she declares.

Jefferson Ward

Many people thought this early composite sketch of the serial rapist resembled Jefferson Ward, but police say Ward, who's been charged in a December 27 rape, is not a suspect in those assaults.