Husband of Falls Church council member charged with sex abuse
By June Q. Wu and Christy Goodman,
A Falls Church man has been charged with sexually abusing three girls, two of whom were attending a Saturday night slumber party to celebrate his 10-year-old daughter’s birthday, according to court documents and the man’s attorney.
Michael A. Gardner, 47, who was arrested Wednesday, is married to Robin S. Gardner, a Falls Church City Council member and former Falls Church mayor. He served as chairman of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee from 2006 to 2007.
Gardner was charged with aggravated sexual battery and one count of animate object sexual penetration in connection with incidents that were alleged to have occurred during the June 18 slumber party at his home. The girls are 9 and 10 years old.
He also is accused of sexually abusing another girl in a separate incident days before the party. Court papers said only that the girl was younger than 13.
Gardner’s attorney, Brian O’Connor, said his client, who has two young children, denies the allegations.
“I’m very confident of Mr. Gardner’s innocence,” O’Connor said. “We think this is all a misunderstanding of some kind.”
Calls to Gardner’s home were not returned Thursday.
Several girls attended the slumber party at the Gardner home last weekend, according to papers filed in Arlington County Circuit Court. Two girls told their parents that Gardner went to the basement, where they were spending the night, and touched them inappropriately, according to the documents.
The 9-year-old was taken to a sexual-assault nurse examiner at a Fairfax County hospital shortly after the alleged incident, the documents say.
The third girl alleged that Gardner had sexually abused her at his home June 16, court papers say.
Gardner was released on $50,000 bond and has been restricted from contact with minors, his attorney said. He is scheduled to appear in court July 12.
Gardner, a guest columnist for the Falls Church News-Press, has remained active in the political community since he stepped down as chairman of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee and has frequently attended functions with his wife, said Betty Coll, the current committee chairwoman.
“I know Mike really well, and this is a complete shock,” Coll said.