Minutes from Washington, DC is the well-to-do Virginia city of Falls Church. In 2011, Michael Gardner, political activist and his wife Robin, former Falls Church City mayor and then Council Member, held a 10th birthday sleepover for their daughter and her friends, ages 9, 10, and 11. After the sleep over three of the young guests complained to their parents that Michael Gardner had molested them. Each family immediately reported it to the police. Rape kits and exams were performed. The "smoking gun" was Michael Gardner's DNA match to the semen on one girl's pajama bottoms as well as multiple saliva matches.
Falls Church City Arrest Shocks City, Garners Intense Media Coverage
Michael Gardner claimed he was innocent and so there was a jury trial held at which the children, his accusers, testified. The jury found him guilty on several counts, yet despite the verdict and the DNA evidence Gardner maintained his innocence. In May, 2012 Gardner was sentenced to serve 22 years. He began serving his term.
Gardner appealed his conviction to the Virginia State Supreme Court. On June 5th, 2014, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that the judge had not allowed the introduction of two character references.
Conviction Overturned for Michael Gardner, Former Democratic Party official from Falls Church
He was granted a new trial.
Michael Gardner gets a new trial date in molestation case
Gardner was released on a $50,000 secure bond until the trial, which will take place in February 2015. The case is in Arlington Circuit Court but being handled by prosecutors from Loudoun, because Arlington’s commonwealth attorney has a personal relationship with the Gardners.
Kill the Witnesses
But before he was released on bond and with a new trial pending, Gardner tried to arrange for his accusers to be killed:
A former Falls Church Democratic Party chairman, charged with molesting two young girls, talked about hiring a hit man to kill them before they could be witnesses at his March 4 trial, according to court documents.
Loudoun County prosecutors said Michael Gardner, who is scheduled to stand trial for allegedly molesting the girls, approached an inmate about finding someone to kill the girls. The inmate reached out to authorities last month.
In a letter, received by authorities last month, the inmate told Gardner that he knew someone who could “help with . . . the ‘3 problems’ you have pre-trial,” according to a motion filed by the prosecution on Thursday, allegedly referring to the two girls and a unspecified third issue. The letter was sent from the inmate in response to “multiple and specific conversations” Gardner allegedly had with the inmate, according to court papers.
Defendant allegedly asked about hit man to kill child witnesses
Another Victim Steps Up
Gardner's now 18 year-old niece accused Gardner of sexually abusing her in 2009 when she was just 12. Gardner, who was out on bail for the retrial, was arrested again and held without bond.
Former Falls Church Democratic Party chair, Michael Gardner, held without bond after new child molestation charges
Gardner Pleads Guilty to Everything
On September 24, 2015, the second day of trial in the case of abusing his niece, Gardner entered guilty pleas to everything, including the charges from the retrial now scheduled for November, 2015. Gardner plead to one count of object sexual penetration and four counts of aggravated sexual battery. He was sentenced to 20 years.
Gardner was sentenced to 40 years, 20 of those suspended and supervised probation for life. Once released, he will be required to register as a Sex Offender and will not be permitted to unsupervised contact with minors, the victims, or their families.
Michael Gardner Pleads Guilty, to Serve 20 Years
In case you are wondering, like I did, if he is actually finally in jail, I checked. Prisoner No. 1459671 is currently incarcerated in Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham, Virginia, a long way from Falls Church.