A Virginia man accused of molesting two young girls in 2011 was arrested again for aggravated sexual battery of a child.
Michael Gardner, whose conviction for allegedly molesting two girls at a sleepover was overturned two months ago, is now accused of assaulting a family member who was under 13 at the time of the assault, officials said.
“On September 29, 2014, the Arlington Circuit Court Grand Jury returned two indictments charging Gardner with Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Child, with offense dates spanning 2009,” according to police.
The two 2009 incidents happened two years before Gardner would be accused of molesting three girls, ages 9 and 10 in 2011. But this latest allegation only came to light after the Virginia Supreme Court overturned that prior sex assault conviction because a character witness was not allowed to testify that Gardner was a good caretaker of children.
Gardner’s most recent victim sought assistance from a professional who was obligated to report the abuse.
Gardner still faces the charges from 2011 and he will be tried again. He’s accused of sexually fondling the girls during the night at his daughter’s slumber party.
Loudoun County Deputy Chief Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Wittman prosecuted Gardner in the first case, and will be the special prosecutor again.
During his first trial, the prosecution presented concentrated DNA evidence that pointed to Gardner. It was found on the inside crotch of one of the girl’s panties. Similar DNA evidence found on the other child’s pajama bottoms was also presented.
“We were elated and sad at the same time and we always believed there were other kids,” said Dan Rice, father of one of Gardner’s 2011 victims.
Dan and Christina Rice’s daughter testified against Gardner and a jury sentenced him to 22 years, but it was thrown out with the convictions.
The Rice’s are now relieved someone else has come forward.
“I’m so impressed…with the courage of that young lady… and I feel that her act was very heroic,” said Christina Rice.
“She probably never said anything because she was protecting her own family. But then to come forward to when he got out of jail, because I’m sure she was worried about his kids,” said Dan Rice.
Gardner had been chairman of the city’s Democratic committee and his wife is a former mayor. He is being held without bond pending his court appearance.