Emotions high as activist sentenced in molestation case

WASHINGTON – A Virginia jury recommended 22 years in prison for Michael Gardner, the husband of former Falls Church mayor and city councilwoman Robin Gardner.

Gardner, 48, was found guilty Wednesday of two counts of sexual battery and one count of object penetration. He could have faced life in prison.

During the sentencing phase Wednesday, a number of jurors broke down crying as Gardner’s wife testified. The judge will rule on the suggested sentencing on Sept. 7, and can make the sentence shorter, but cannot lengthen it.

The judge declared a mistrial on the fourth molestation charge against Gardner. The prosecution indicated they may retry him at a later date.

The ruling came after eight emotional days of testimony in the case against the 48-year-old community activist and lawyer found guilty of improperly touching two young girls staying at his home last June.

The two girls attended a slumber party for Gardner’s daughter’s 10th birthday in June.

On Monday, defense attorneys implied that Gardner’s medical condition, as a result of his battle with cancer, left him unable to physically move his right hand and shoulder in a manner consistent with the accusations against him.

Experts testified at the trial that DNA found inside one of the girl’s underwear and outside the pajamas of another was a highly probable match to Gardner.

Learn more about the trial by following this link.

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