Duwayne Daniel Ward, 77, has been convicted of gross sexual imposition against a minor, a 12-year-old girl.
Ward was the Minot fire chief for more than 16 years, beginning his tenure as chief in June 1981 after spending more than two decades with the department. He retired in March 1998, according to fire department records.
Ward was alone with the girl, who was known to him, in his southwest Minot home on or around Oct. 22, 2011, when the incident occurred, according to police records.
The child was interviewed by a forensic interviewer at the Dakota Children's Advocacy Center in Bismarck where she made specific allegations against Ward about that night.
The interview shows that once the child expressed discomfort with the situation, Ward stopped touching her.
Ward was cooperative with the police when confronted with the allegations.
"Yeah, it is true," Ward told investigating detective Matt McLeod of the Minot Police Department. "Now we're trying to figure out why."
Gross sexual imposition against a minor under 15 years old, according to the North Dakota Century Code, is a class AA felony which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years. The court may deviate from this sentencing, though, under certain conditions. Due to his admitting his guilt and thoroughly cooperating with law enforcement efforts, Ward's sentence was reduced to a class A felony which carries a minimum five-year sentence.
Ward was sentenced to five years in prison, but most of that was suspended in favor of probation. Ward will serve a total of six months in prison, will register as a sex offender and is ordered to not contact the victim in any way.