Gardner Found Guilty on Three Counts
By FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
May 2, 2012
An Arlington County jury deliberated less than about seven hours over two days before finding Falls Church community activist Michael Gardner guilty on three charges of sexual abuse involving young girls.
Mr. Gardner, a former chair of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee and husband of former mayor and current City Councilor Robin Gardner, was taken into custody as soon as the first verdict was read. He was found guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of object penetration. The judge declared a mistrial on the fourth count.
News reports said Robin Gardner and other relatives cried upon the announcement of the verdict. It is not known if Mr. Gardner plans to appeal.
Defense attorney Peter Greenspun had a difficult case to defend, given that three girls were making accusations and that DNA evidence supported those accusations when Mr. Gardner’s DNA was found inside one accuser’s underwear.
Mr. Greenspun argued that was simply the result of the girls being at Mr. Gardner’s house, a contention that prosecutor Nicole Wittman of Loudoun County said was preposterous.
The case began last June after three girls, ages 9 and 10, who were at Mr. Gardner’s Ellison Street home for sleepovers with his daughter, made the explosive accusations. Mr. Gardner initially was barred from his own home, a rule that later was relaxed.
A variety of local television stations and other media are in the court room and have more information on the case.
By Stephen Siegel
May 2, 2012