CRIME

Husband of former Falls Church mayor charged with sex abuse

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Michael Gardner, husband of former Falls Church mayor and current council member Robin Gardner, has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing three little girls inside their home.

A saliva sample has been taken from Gardner in an effort to determine if he sexually assaulted the three girls.

Gardner’s attorney says the allegations are a misunderstanding.

According to court documents, Gardner is accused of aggravated sexual battery and object sexual penetration after assaults on two girls, ages 9 and 10 on June 18 at his daughter's birthday slumber party in the basement of their Falls Church home.

The 9-year-old was taken to INOVA Fairfax Hospital where an exam was done by a specially trained sexual assault nurse examiner.

Neighbors are shocked at what police say happened in a nondescript home in a Falls Church neighborhood.

The charges stem from events last weekend.

Gardner served as a local chair of a Democratic committee and neighbors described him as an introvert. They spoke more fondly of his wife, and worried about how it could impact her life and career.

"The rumor mill's going, there's talk in the community, this is a tight knit community," said Steven Falcon, a Falls Church resident. "I see it impacting her negatively."

But Gardner's neighbors proclaimed his innocence until proven guilty.

Gardner posted bond today and was released from the adult detention center. He will appear in court sometime next month.

“Parents drop their kids off thinking they they're safe with whomever they're dropping them off with,” said neighbor Isabel Otero. “It's a trust and it's sad that that was broken in something as horrible as molestation.”

Some neighbors said they’re not going to rush to judgment.

“I believe that anyone is innocent until proven guilty,” said neighbor Lisa Reid. “If he is guilty unfortunately, I mean you know he should get whatever time he deserves.”

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