DNA Report Released In Falls Church Molestation Case, Parents Speak Out | News
ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. (WUSA) - Arlington County Circuit Court has released copies of the extensive DNA report in the molestation case against Michael Gardner. Gardner is a well-known Falls Church political activist who is married to city council member and former mayor Robin Gardner.
The DNA report, compiled by Cybergenetics of Pittsburgh, PA, ompares DNA profiles from Michael Gardner and from two pieces of clothing from two of the three alleged victims. The clothes are underpants from one girl and pajama pants from the other girl.
The report finds that a match between the underpants and Michael Gardner is "20.7 quadrillion times more probable than a coincidental match to an unrelated Caucasian person."
Local DNA expert Thomas McClintock with DNA Diagnostics Inc., in Dunkirk, Md., explained that one in 20.7 quadrillion means "Gardner is the only person with that DNA on the planet" since the earth's population is only 7 billion.
The report also finds that a match between the pajama pants and Michael Gardner "is 3.86 thousand times more probable than a coincidental match to an unrelated Caucasian person."
There is other DNA evidence that could help the defense. Gardner was found not to be a match to a few sperm found on the pajama pants. The prosecution is filing a motion to exclude that evidence saying that it's unrelated to the case. No semen was found on any of the girls.
A study in the Canadian Society of Forensic Science found that it's likely for sperm to be transferred from one clothing item to another in the washing machine. The article is cited in the U.S. Department of Justice's National Criminal Justice Reference Service. That may be the prosecution's explanation of the DNA evidence if it's allowed.
The trial is scheduled for April 23, 2012 in Arlington County Circuit Court. Special Prosecutor Nicole Wittman from Loudoun County has been appointed to handle the case.
Parents of two of the alleged victims in the case spoke out exclusively to WUSA 9.
Three girls who were at sleep-overs at the Gardner's home last June say he molested them while they were in their sleeping bags or in a bed. The Gardners and the parents of the girls were in an Arlington County courtroom Thursday, March 22, 2012.
"You just take one day at a time. Every time you think things are normal, another hearing like this comes up and it's a tough thing," said one of the fathers.
Gardner's attorney and an attorney for a local newspaper won what could prove to be a defense against the child molestation charges.
Garnder's lawyer, Peter Greenspun, and the Falls Church News Press, for which Gardner was a recent columnist, convinced a judge to unseal a transcript from a December hearing. Parents of the alleged victims said it contains information about the mental health of the girls, who were 10 and 9 years old at time.
WUSA agreed to conceal the identity of the families to protect the alleged victims. Several parents of the children say they are worried Greenspun will engage in "character assassination" of their children.
"You have three of the bravest young citizens coming forward for something that never should have... something that nobody should ever have to go through, and I do worry. Of course, someone is entitled to a vigorous defense, but, boy; there are certainly lines that I fear could be crossed," said a father of one of the alleged victims.
"You don't realize when you first start in on this process that victims get put on trial just as much as the accused. So, it's a tough thing," said another father.
The parents say they are concerned about how the local Falls Church News Press has been covering the story. They say the newspaper has direct ties to the defendant and they're upset that the paper has requested transcripts of a hearing they believe should be kept private.
Nicholas Benton, the editor of the newspaper never returned our calls or messages for a response, and the Gardners and his attorney refused our requests for an interview.
This reporter was in the courtroom for the preliminary hearing last summer and found the three girls unflappable in their detailed accounts.
One girl said she woke up to the sound of somebody opening her sleeping bag. She said he touched her girl parts. Another said, "He touched me inappropriately on my chest, stomach and vagina. He asked if it felt good and I said No."
An emotional father called the girls courageous, "We are so proud of our children. This is one of the most difficult things that anybody could have to go through. They've really just done an amazing job standing up for this."
"This is one of the most difficult things that anybody could have to go through. They've really just done an amazing job standing up for this," said another father.
Reported and written by Peggy Fox, 9News Now and WUSA9.com