The following is a statement from Maya Jerome, sister of Michael Gardner, received by the News-Press today concerning Gardner’s guilty plea on all child sex abuse charges pending against him in the Arlington Circuit Court Wednesday:
“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that this afternoon Michael took a deal to protect his family. The deal ensured that Robin and the kids would remain safe and be free from prosecution. We were winning the trial…we proved that things did not happen as was being related…but when the prosecution AND the judge showed that they were willing to go after Robin with the same vitriol that they went after Michael, Michael gave them what they wanted.
“Michael will serve 20 years, less time served and good behavior. Robin and the kids will be left alone….Michael was always willing to gamble with his life, but never Robin’s and the kids. He loves his family too much to allow them to go through the horrors that he was these last four years.
“We all stood behind Michael this afternoon as he made his plea. The judge asked if he was guilty of the crimes and Michael’s response was “I am pleading guilty.” When the judge asked Michael’s profession, Michael turned to his attorneys and asked if he could claim he was a lion tamer….in typical Michael fashion.
“Please know that his family and friends were there with him during this difficult decision. He made this decision in the best interest of his family. His friends and family know the truth. We know that Michael NEVER did any of the things that he was accused of doing. We still stand behind him 100 percent.
“By taking this plea, Michael has knowingly forfeited his right to appeal. There is no justice in the justice system. Michael tried so hard to bring it to light, but his best efforts failed. We, his family, continue to support him. Please continue your support so that Michael is not forgotten.
“Thank you to all of you who showed support by writing letters, by taking his calls, and by going to see him. It has been greatly appreciated.”