Gardner Supporters Call Attention To Lack of Child Protective Role

Supporters of the defense of prominent Falls Church resident Michael Gardner, appealing his conviction while serving a 22-year prison sentence for an alleged June 2011 molestation of three young girls, circulated a press release last week calling attention to a Jan. 10 Fairfax Circuit Court hearing regarding the role of the county’s Child Protective Services division in the case.

The hearing, according to a transcript obtained by the News-Press last week, included testimony from a seasoned social worker in the division, Cynthia Schade, that she was told by Falls Church police not to, and therefore she did not, interview any of the child victims in the case.

“In all her years working child protection cases in different Northern Virginia jurisdictions, the social worker (Schade—ed.) testified she never before had local police or prosecutors refuse to cooperate with her agency to the extent she experienced in the Gardner matter,” the Gardner supporter press release stated.

However, news of the hearing has not altered the conviction of the City and the parents of the victims that justice was done in the case. A spokesman for the Falls Church police, when asked to comment by the News-Press, stated via an email, “the City of Falls Church Police Department strives to protect the integrity of all investigations, as we have in this case.”

Additionally, a parent of one of the young victims issued a statement to the News-Press Tuesday stating, “We live in Falls Church and have to deal with Michael Gardner’s unconscionable betrayal of trust every day, but are thankful for our justice system, the full criminal investigation and trial. The conviction by a jury of his peers after an exhaustive trial, which was grueling for the three brave young girl citizens at the center of this, speaks for itself.”

According to the transcript of the Jan.10 hearing, Schade testified that she had “been instructed by Detective Richardson and her captain (of the Falls Church Police Department—ed.) that I was not to interview the children about the case.”

Schade said that normally, as with her work with Fairfax County Police, the open sharing of information was the norm, but that in the Gardner case, “there was a break between Falls Church City Police and myself and the case.” She called it “unusual” and said “my normal relationship with detectives is we work pretty closely when we’re working cases.”

Her official title is “Social Worker III” for the Sexual Abuse Unit of the Child Protective Services division of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services. The City of Falls Church contracts with the department for services at a considerable cost annually. At the hearing, she provided a description of the professional way in which she conducts interviews with juveniles in such matters.


When asked in the Jan. 10 hearing by Peter Greenspun, the attorney for Gardner, “Did they (Falls Church police – ed.) explain to you why they didn’t want you to interview the kids?,” Schade replied, “What I was told was that they did not feel that that was the best practice for the children,” adding, “My assumption was that because of my experience working with children that it’s not good to continue to re-interview children in a situation like this.”

But she said the City police also told her “that I would not be able to get the recordings or any written documentation that they had obtained prior to my involvement in the case.”

Greenspun asked, “Then as far as any physical evidence, photographs, they never gave you the opportunity to get a dump of evidence to assist you in your determination?”

Schade answered, “No.”

Greenspun asked, “That was a bit frustrating?”

Schade answered, “Yes.”

Greenspun asked, “They didn’t let you do your job fully, right?”


Schade answered, “I feel that I have a good professional relationship with Falls Church in other cases I have worked and this was the first time I had run into something like this.”

Greenspun asked, “Did they give you any explanation as to why they were treating this one special?”

Schade answered, “I was told that the county attorney from Loudoun County, Nicole Whitman, was directing them with what they could give and what they could say.”


  1. Schade categorized Gardner in the most serious offender category after reviewing well more than three hours of interview tape and sitting through three hours of Gardner’s attorney grilling the girls at the preliminary juvenile hearing. This all before the trial, and despite that she knew the Gardners personally, something she disclosed somewhat alarmingly in an initial meeting with the parents. Key fact, that finding was upheld by a second reviewing official from CPS at the Jan. 9 hearing.

  2. Benton said: “appealing his conviction while serving a 22-year prison sentence for an alleged June 2011 molestation of three young girls…”

    Benton, you put the word “alleged” in your article. He was convicted. No one is alleging anything. Gardner IS a child molester.

  3. This is just one of the many “anomalies” of this case. CPS involvement is standard procedure, yet it was not followed. FCPD didn’t follow standard protocol when it saiid the semen was Gardner’s, and did not issue a retraction after analysis determined the semen came from one of the parents. Later, FCPD gives Loudoun County prosecutors an award, and then the FCPD chief abruptly resigns the next month. How many similar awards has FCPD given to prosecutors in the past? While Gardner was indeed convicted, the many inconsistencies also seem to warrant further investigation by an organization other than the FCPD.

    • Dail… you think Gardner’s verdict should be reversed due to these “anomalies” of the case?

      • John, I don’t think I’m qualified to know. All I’m saying is that there are so many inconsistencies in this case, that a review or retrial is definitely warranted. As for DNA, the state’s expert said there were other DNA. And, whose sperm was in the panties? From what I read it was not Gardner’s, but someone else’s and I never read anywhere about Gardner’s salvia, though I may have missed that point. As for “hired experts”, I always question their objectivity and the first question that comes io my mind is “how much are you being paid.” After the state’s DNA expert testified, I thought the trial should have been over, I think the verdict at that point would have been “not guilty.” And, I’ve always been bothered by the lack of CPS involvement. As soon as sperm was found in the panties and it was determined not to be Gardner’s, CPS should have been there ASAP. But, they were told not to by the FCPD. Why??? It just is not logical, unless FCPD (or the prosecutors) was/were trying to hide something, or???? Do you have any ideas or thoughts on this? I’m really beginning to believe it’s possible a serious injustice has been done to Gardner.

        • I agree with you about all the inconsistencies. I also believe the little girl who had the sperm in her clothing (which was not Gardner’s) should have had CPS at her doorstep investigating. I think regardless of how people feel about Gardner, the real issue is the little girls. They are the ones that should be kept safe at any cost,and it seems to me by not allowing CPS to complete an investigation the system has failed these little girls.

          • Totally agree!!!

          • Inappropriate influence, interference and conflict of interest were and remain the greatest threat to these three brave girls, among the bravest the fair city of Falls Church has known. Painful but important to read for anyone that truly cares about these brave children (see link below):

          • “Inappropriate influence, interference and conflict of interest”. Who? When? How?

          • Luke,
            Just read both the Gardner appeal to VA Court of Appeals and the Brief in Opposition to Petition for Appeal by Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorneys. From my layman’s view, the Gardner Appeal is very convincing, the Commonwealth’s Attorney reply less so. I would love to post the entire Appeal, but I don’t know how to do so. If you or someone else does, please let me know. After reading it and then rereading it, if the “facts” in the Appeal are accurate, Gardner has a very strong case for a new trial.

          • You certainly are entitled to your view (however curious), but please don’t confuse culpability with legal prospects. Could ask your layman’s view on the Sandusky conviction, but I suppose that wouldn’t be sporting.

          • Glad you mentioned Sandusky. He seems to fit the typical profile of a molester, often, and many victims over long periods of time. Gardner doesn’t fit this profile, which is one of the “anomalies” of this case. And, Gardner was active in youth sports, yet the FCPD could not find any linkages to previous questionable behaviors. I find it difficult to believe that a 47-year old man wakes up one day and becomes a molester. Yet, interestingly, this “character reference”, for lack of a better name, was not allowed by the judge. The Appeal very effectively addresses this point. I can email you the appeal if you wish to read it.

          • What was on his computers etc might also have introduced important character reference but an anamolous three week delay of the search warrant (before an outside prosecutor could be brought in) and limited cooperation (i.e. no computer of Garder’s to be found) took care of that. Let’s leave it to the legal system, in which I have faith. Should somehow a new trial become reality, the three brave young girls involved will perservere. Remember, they asked for none of this, and it’s the last thing a parent would ever want for his child or expect from folks he counted as friends, at their daughter’s birthday party for her closest friends.

          • Luke,
            Agree, someone dropped the ball on the computers. All computers should have been at least imaged on day one, if not confiscated. This is just another “anomaly” which makes this case so unusual. And, the computers, could have had child pornography, or they could have had none, so I not sure if this is a positive or negative for either side. But, it does seem to reflect very sloppy investigative procedures/processes. And, 3 weeks to get a search warrant, that makes no sense. Hopefully, someone can explain this as it makes no sense.

            In a message dated 2/22/2013 3:27:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:


            Luke wrote, in response to Dail:
            What was on his computers etc might also have introduced important character reference but an anamolous three week delay of the search warrant (before an outside prosecutor could be brought in) and limited cooperation (i.e. no computer of Garder’s to be found) took care of that. Let’s leave it to the legal system, in which I have faith. Should somehow a new trial become reality, the three brave young girls involved will perservere. Remember, they asked for none of this, and it’s the last thing a parent would ever want for his child or expect from folks he counted as friends, at their daughter’s birthday party for her closest friends.

            _Link to comment_ ( mment-808824117:JOe-w2mfGHR_i-xjGe2Yp8Fh5a4&impression=e6a17668-7d2d-11e2-a0 e6-00304834ba4a& )

          • Dail, I think it was more a reflection of the Gardner’s having hosted a fundraiser for the prosecutor that could issue it, with that obvious conflict of interest having to be addressed, but I’m not really in position to know fully. You carry on if need be. I’m confident justice has been done and will prevail.

          • Luke, I do not see a conflict of interest issue, as much as incompetent and “sloppy” police work. Was a search warrant requested and denied? Or what? The more I learn about this case, the less confidence I have in the parties involved, i.e., FCPD, CPS, the prosecutors, Forensics Lab, etc. I’m glad you feel justice was done. I’m getting less and less confident that the verdict was the correct one. As a minimum, a new trial is warranted.

  4. Dail way off base and perhaps should explain his or her relation to the case, but I do agree that anomalies such as why the search warrant for Gardner was delayed for weeks, with his computers never searched etc. the result. Plus that the CPS official admitted knowing the Gardners personally while acting very strangely and aggressively with the parents in her initial meeting with them, maybe or maybe not coincident that she works on the same county staff as Gardner’s sister. And that the Gardner kids never were questioned as part of the investigation, only by CPS after weeks of carefully prepared conditions. All this could and perhaps should warrant additional investigation, though CPS still determined him in the most serious offender category and justice (not influence), so far, has prevailed. Please remember the three brave young girl citizens of Falls Church who’ve suffered. They asked for none of this. They and their parents thought they were in the care of trusted friends.

    • Why does Dail have to explain his relationship to the case? An interest in justice is good enough for me. Yes Gardner’s sister works in the county govt as does the social worker. They work for different agencies. There are approx 2200 ffx co employees. That is like being in the military and being asked if you know Bob Smith! If you are saying that the two had some sort of “relationship” and that relationship influenced the social workers investigation and testimony then you are way out of line.

  5. Luke,
    I don’t think you addressed any of my issues/concerns and hope you will. As for CPS, I thought in the transcript CPS said they did not know the Gardners. Is this correct or you saying they lied?

  6. It is a common practice in most media to provide “full disclosure” when they are reporting on someone who had/has a relationship with that media outlet. That said, why doesn’t the Falls Church News Press make that declaration in their consistently supportive reporting on serial child sex abuser and pedophile Michael Gardner?
    Mr. Gardner wrote articles for the FCNP on number of issues, including on the bad and inattentive parents of Falls Church. It seems that Mr. Gardner’s secret life was exposed by a good and attentive Falls Church parent who listened to their child and took prompt and appropriate action which led to the discovery of Mr.Gardner’s saliva and DNA inside the tiny young girl’s underpants. How does he explain that?

    • Fact..there was never a discovery of “Gardners siliva stain”. The transcript mentions the finding of a “dna stain” that was unidentifiable as to type.

      • Okay then, if not saliva, how does he explain his semen in the tiny girl’s underpants?

        • There was no finding of his semen. As i said the finding was of a dna stain of an unidentified type. There was a finding of an identified type if dna cell that was attributed to a known male who was NOT Gardner.

          • Read again my friend who spins tales on blog sites. The young girl reported to police that Mr. Gardner’s fingers were in the exact place where Mr. Gardner’s DNA was located by the lab. That does MUCH to support her credibility and seems to damage his more than a little. Semen, saliva, skin cells, maybe all of the above but CERTAINLY Mr. Gardner’s. Read again my friend; read for yourself instead of reading “news releases” from Mr. Gardner’s supporters which, at this point, are only his poor family and paid attorneys!

          • Jeez…calm down Vel..just tellung u what is in the transcript..what came out at trial..a particular type of dna cell (actually more than one) was found that in the crotch area and it was identified as belonging to a male other than Gardner. Its in the record. Just giving you a fact. Not trying to upset you just want u to have your facts straight.

          • Not sure what you are reading as to where you are getting your facts.

          • And just so u know…i am not your friend and nor do i blog on sites. This is the first site & subject that i have blogged. Why? Because I think an injustice has been done!

          • I don’t have the transcripts with me on travel.
            I realize that other news organizations are not as thorough and professional as the FCNP but CBS News/Channel 9 reported
            “Witness testimony is critical in the case, but so it DNA evidence. A DNA expert is set to testify this week about Gardner’s DNA that was found on two of the girls’ clothing, including on the inside crotch of underpants.” You’re saying that CBS was wrong?

          • Sorry u are travel and do not have the transcript to refer to ..therefore you need to be very careful when stating things as facts. And no i would never accept what cbs or their ilk report as facts. Also people might want to learn about the types of dna. It is not the smoking gun that watching CSI makes you believe. Yes Vel i am talking from my heart …why is that an issue….nothing i have said is untrue.

          • The police are all wrong; the media is all wrong; the court experts are all wrong; the lab tests are all wrong; the science is all wrong; the little girls lied; the jury of peers was all wrong; the American Justice system is a fraud. Welcome to Fantasy Island!

          • Vel…calm…i just responded factually to some of the issues ur raised.

          • I understand the pain of the family but the time comes when ALL must face the facts rather than spin the “feelings.” I’m sorry for you but, mostly, I’m sorry for the little girls who don’t have high priced lawyers muddying the waters, spinning yarn and spreading “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and discontent.) Justice was DONE, he is guilty as charged and it’s painful to believe (as I do) that there are more innocent victims out there. There was no injustice. This man had a hidden side and it was evil, so evil!

          • NBC reported… But testimony from a DNA expert last week revealed DNA with a high p”robability of being Gardner’s was found on one girl’s pajamas and another girl’s underwear.”

          • Where do you get your news? Crystal ball?
            CBS News Reported “Also on the witness stand Thursday, a DNA expert who analyzed the forensic evidence taken from Mr. Gardner and two of the alleged victims’s pajamas pants and underwear. He said the DNA found on the interior crotch of the underpants had an extremely high probability of being Michael Gardners. Gardner’s DNA profile, he said, “is 20.7 quadrillion times more probable than in a coincidental match with an unrelated caucasian person.””

          • It has a 1 in 20.7 quadrillion chance of being someone other than Michael Gardner’s DNA. How many people are there in the world? Where are YOUR facts…. in your heart? Justice was done! Get over it!

          • Found the girls and Gardner’s DNA on the inside of the girls panties….and that was the only DNA present there.

          • No John, That was not the testimony of the State’s DNA expert. She testified, under cross examination, that in addition to the victim’s and Gardner’s DNA she found the DNA of a third and possibly a fourth unidentified person(s). Gardner’s DNA was always found in a “mixture” of DNA.

          • No Justin, you are wrong. Who is she you are referring to? She was not the final expert in the case…she was just a tech that Greenspun confused. The real expert testified the next day and only two DNA were in the girls panties…Gardners (well one in quadriliion…) and her DNA. There was no cross examination of his testimony.

          • well no real cross examination that would rebuke the experts testimony.

          • You are confusing the states DNA experts. “His” testimony did not include any statement as to only Gardner’s DNA being the only DNA found in the crotch area. As for the State’s other DNA expert she was very collected and confident during cross…not the least bit confused.

          • It sure did Justin. You are confusing the states DNA expert. The was only two DNA found in the crotch area.

  7. Sex abusers are predators, lurking in the dark corners looking for the weak, impaired, easy prey. How many years did the big and strong Michael Gardner lurk and strike
    before he picked the wrong target? Described as tiny, quiet and shy, this young girl turned the tables on THIS big and strong pedophile with powerful connections! She told her mom, she went through the “rape kit” experience that no child her age should, and she told her same painful story over and over again to investigators, reliably and consistently. Then she told the same story again in court, was questioned and cross examined and proved to be rock solid.
    Unable to use the reliable “NUTS or SL*TS” strategy, his experienced rape defenders were shaken. The lab finding his saliva and DNA in her panties sealed his fate! In the end, HE was proven to be weak and impaired, and easy prey for this courageous child.
    What’s the current plan? Get an appeal and threaten to bring that child and the other victims back to court to dredge up those old and painful memories that they are all trying so hard to forget. That threat may be just enough to get all to agree to a plea deal with less time in jail. How can those lawyers sleep at night!

  8. Why is this Front Page “News?” Someone was NOT used to collect evidence in a case that proved sufficient to convict on multiple counts and put a criminal child sex abuser behind bars for 20+ years? I find it interesting that the FCNP still speaks of the “alleged” offense by their former employee, Mr. Gardner. The FCNP also calls him a “prominent Falls Church resident.” He lives in jail until 2030 something and his family moved from Falls Church.

  9. Debra Z. Roth

    So much has gone wrong with this case. Frightening. Horrifying. Many are hurt. It’s time to open up, correct and move toward healing.


    I’m not convinced of Gardner’s guilt. There can be justice served and justice that perhaps went astray. I attended every day of the trial that was indeed extremely grueling for all involved. As a result, I have many concerns about the inconsistencies and anomalies of both the case investigation and the testifying at the trial. What reason did the FC police have in refusing to cooperate with the Fairfax County CPS? This is SOP in these types of cases involving children. Why wasn’t Ms Schade, a trained CPS professional in the sexual abuse unit, not allowed to interview the girls. She was told “not to interview the girls” by the detective and the captain on the case. Why? Are the FC police trained for such an important interview of this nature? What use was it for Ms Schade to view the tapes and not be an active part of the procedures? Didn’t these girls deserve the full expertise of the CPS? Only the Gardner children were interviewed by this expert at a much later time. Why was there such a delay in the search warrant of the Gardner home and computers? Another concern was in the investigation and the testimony of the lead detective on the case: her; her lack of documentation on time lines and her poorly presented evidence. I could list muliple more concerns about other testimonies. I am not an attorney, but I do believe there are enough concerns to warrant further invstigations. Please remember that mistakes have been made in such cases before.

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