Police: Suspect sexually assaulted woman while victim held 1-year-old

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer announced that they have arrested the suspect in the case of a kidnapping, carjacking, sexual assault, and robbery of a woman in Northeast Fresno.

The suspect has been identified as Joseph Ward, 35, of Fresno.

Ward has been booked on a dozen charges including kidnapping, first-degree robbery, carjacking, false imprisonment with violence, sexual assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and terrorist threats.

Investigators say Ward forced his way into a Northeast Fresno home and sexually assaulted a 24-year-old woman at knifepoint last month.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer became emotional when talking about the violent crime that took place back on June 22.

"Every time I talk to the victim, and hear her cry, it hurts. But, that is the very thing that drives our investigators to work around the clock to get Joseph Ward in custody."

The victim was babysitting a one-year-old child at the time.

According to investigators, after he sexually assaulted her, ward stole items from the home before he forced the babysitter and child into her car, where he drove them to a Wells Fargo ATM located in a parking lot off Champlain and Shepherd Avenues and forced her to take money out.

The victim convinced the suspect to let her go and he then later abandoned the car.

"There is nothing this victim could've done to prevent from occurring to her," said Chief Dyer. "She was victimized, she was forced into the residence. That can happen. That can happen to anyone at any time."

The vehicle was located in Northwest Fresno two days later.

Ward is a convicted felon on parole.

"This is the third strike for Joseph Ward, and I am very confident in our District Attorney's office to prosecute this case with the hope that he will receive multiple life sentences for what he's done," said Chief Dyer.

Ward has a long criminal history, including convictions that include assault with a deadly weapon.

He was also arrested in 2001 on rape and kidnapping charges but was never convicted.
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