Gardner Takes Stand in His Own Defense
Gardner said he never touched girls who accused him.
Falls Church political and civic activist Michael Gardner said in Arlington County Circuit Court on Monday that he has never had sexual interest in children and has never touched one in an inappropriate manner.
Gardner, 48, is on trial for allegedly sexually abusing three young girls at his Falls Church home last June — one during a sleepover with his daughter and two more the following night during his daughter's birthday slumber party.
The girls were 9 and 10 years old at the time.
Gardner's wife, Robin, is a former mayor of Falls Church and a current sitting councilwoman. Her testimony Friday called into question the stories told by the three young girls, according to news reports.
During the sleepover, Gardner said he worked until about 10:15 p.m. He said he usually wears boxer shorts, a T-shirt and a green robe at night.
There was a thunderstorm that night, and the Gardners' daughter asked if she and her friend could come into their bedroom. Michael Gardner said he didn't want the children in his room, so he offered to go into their room.
The girls were playing video games and word games, he said. The friend was going on about having "mutant powers" that could create lightning, and the two were trying to outguess the storm. Gardner said there was a particularly loud thunderclap at about 10:20 p.m.
"They were playing games, talking," he said. "And quite frankly, I was bored out of my mind."
Gardner soon returned to his room, only to be called back by the girls after another thunderclap.
The girls asked him to transfer their "lightning power," so he touched his daughter on her back and the other girl, who was laying on a mattress, on her midriff. At about 10:50 p.m., the storm let up and Gardner returned to his room.
Prosecutor Nicole Wittmann started her cross examination by asking Gardner if he could remember what he was wearing or what he was doing at 10:20 or 10:50 p.m. three nights before the alleged incident — or two nights, or one. He couldn't.
The next night, during the birthday slumber party, Gardner is accused of molesting two girls several times during the night.
But Gardner said he woke up once to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. He noticed a downstairs light on and turned it off — peeking his head in the basement where the girls were sleeping for no more than three to five seconds.
During his testimony, Gardner pointed out that his was 6 feet tall and weighed 240 pounds — too large to fit on the floor where his accusers said he was when they were attacked.
Gardner also discussed being diagnosed with melanoma, which spread to his lymph nodes and the subsequent surgery left him unable to raise his right arm above his shoulder. He sometimes has trouble making a fist or holding a pen.
Wittmann, during her cross examination, got Gardner to point his right index finger in the air, then point it forward and move it in a circle. She also had him make tapping and rubbing gestures.
The defense called several character witnesses Monday afternoon to testify on Gardner's reputation as being truthful and honest.