Ward taught religion at both schools, coached the JV football team, and gained a reputation for flirting with teenage girls, even though he was 27 and a priest. In the spring of 1978, it apparently went beyond flirtation.
Father Tony LaTorre was Cardinal Newman’s vice principal at the time.
"There was some concern Bernie possibly being involved with some female students from Ursuline High School next door," says Father LaTorre.
The I-Team has been able to confirm two sexual misconduct complaints against Ward when he was a priest. First, Rosanne Schwab. Father Bernie got her parents’ approval to take her to the beach for a day when she was 17.
"This was a different time and place where priests really were trusted, and so Bernie and I headed out to Bodega," says Schwab.
On the way, Schwab says Ward stopped at a liquor store, bought a bottle of 151 rum. When they got to the beach, he parked on a cliff.
"He produced a joint out of his pocket," says Schwab.
Schwab says they smoked marijuana and drank. Then, Father Bernie began pressing her for intimate details of the sex life with her boyfriend.
"Every time I tried to bring the conversation around to something that made me feel safer, Bernie would bring it back to the sex," says Schwab.
Schwab says she grew very uncomfortable and when Ward put his hand on her shoulder, she froze with fear.
"And he took that same hand and grabbed the back of my head and pulled me to him and stuck his tongue in my mouth and held me very tightly with the one hand behind my head and the other hand up against my breasts," says Schwab.
Schwab says it went on for several minutes before she could push Father Bernie away, and that he scolded her.
"He said, ‘I am really disappointed in you. I thought that you were mature, I thought that you were special,’" says Schwab.
The second complaint comes from another former student who tells us that when she was 16, Ward drove her to San Francisco for a prayer meeting. On the way back, they stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge and he pulled out a six-pack of Heineken. She says when Father Bernie tried to kiss her, she punched him in the stomach.
When that girl told her parents they demanded a meeting with the principal of Cardinal Newman at the time, Father Bill Finn. Rosanne Schwab and her parents also came.
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