City of Falls Church resident Michael Gardner was arrested by police Wednesday and charged with two felony counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child, and is currently being held at Arlington County Adult Detention Center without bond. The most recent charges are new and unrelated to Gardner’s previous molestation charges in 2011.
On Monday, the Arlington Circuit Court Grand Jury returned two indictments charging Gardner with Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Child, with offense dates spanning 2009. The alleged victim in the case is a family member who was under 13 years of age at the time she was assaulted.
In an appearance at Arlington County Circuit Court Wednesday morning, Gardner declared he is using Alexandria-based attorney Chris Liebig to represent him in this case. His next court appearance is Thursday at 9:30 a.m. for a bond hearing, according to court records.
These most recent allegations came to light only after Gardner was released from prison after his conviction was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court in a 2011 case involving two counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery and one count of Object Sexual Penetration. In that case, Gardner was accused to molesting two girls, friends of his daughter, at slumber parties on June 16 and June 18, 2011.
The victim in the most recent case related the incident to an individual who, by law, is a mandated reporter of child abuse allegations.
At the time of his arrest, Gardner was out on bail after the earlier, unrelated conviction was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court in June of this year. In the case, the Supreme Court ruled by a 6-1 margin that Circuit Court trial judge Benjamin Kendrick improperly barred two character witnesses from testifying about whether Gardner had a reputation as a good caretaker of children. Their testimony was limited to Gardner’s general reputation for honesty and peacefulness.
“We have always known that Michael’s trial had many errors. We are very pleased that the Supreme Court of Virginia came to the same conclusion,” said Gardner’s family in statement released through his attorney in the 2011 case, Peter Greenspun.
Before the conviction was overturned, Gardner had served two years and a month of a 22-year prison sentence.
Pre-trial motions were filed in that case on Aug. 26 and Sept. 23, 2014 ahead of his retrial, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 2, 2015. “Mr. Gardner will be prepared to challenge these charges in a trial based on the proper application of the rules of evidence,” Greenspun said in the press release.
Gardner was a longtime Falls Church City political activist and former chair of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee. He authored of the sharply-partisan political blog “Blue Weeds” along with a weekly column in the News-Press. Gardner’s wife is the former mayor of the City of Falls Church, having served on the F.C. Council from 2006 – 2012.