ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) - No remorse today from Michael Gardner. The Falls Church man was sentenced to 22 years after being convicted in May of sexually abusing two young girls. The abuse happened at his daughter's slumber party last year. Barring an appeal and reversal, Gardner won't be out of prison until he's 70 years old. And the victims say that's a good thing.
"We have one less child molester on the street," said Dan Rice, the father of child who was molested by Gardner. 9 News usually does not identify the parents of children who've been abused. But Dan Rice wanted to speak on camera and get his message out.
When Rice picked up his 10-year-old daughter from a friend's slumber party, she told him immediately that Michael Gardner had molested her in the middle of the night.
"It's crucial you believe your kids the moment they speak up."
Because his child, and the other girl who was molested by Gardner that night, also spoke up quickly, police were able to collect their pajamas and underpants for DNA testing.
"Unfortunately, children are not believed. Having that DNA was crucial," said Rice.
The prosecution team says the girls' testimony combined with the DNA evidence convinced the jury Michael Gardner was guilty.
Commonwealth's Attorney Nicole Wittmann said, "It was very strong, powerful, convincing, correct evidence."
But at Michael Gardner's sentencing, he had no apology. He told the judge he was falsely accused and wrongly convicted. His wife, and former Falls Church Mayor, Robin Gardner believes him.
"There is no doubt in my mind that my husband did not commit the crime that he's been found guilty of and I will stand by him," Robin Gardner said.
Gardner's defense attorney Peter Greenspun accused the Falls Church Police Department of botching the investigation. He plans to appeal.
"They never looked at the inconsistencies, they never looked at the differences, they never looked at it from a common sense point of view," said Greenspun.
Detective Sonya Richardson disagrees, "We were extremely careful that everything was done by the book and procedure was followed."
Greenspun switched gears when asking Judge Benjamin Kendrick for leniency. He asked him to consider Gardner's criminal actions that night an "aberration" of his true character as an upstanding father, husband and member of the community. He said the fact that no one else had come forward accusing Gardner of abuse meant that it was not a pattern.
Judge Kendrick was not swayed. He told the courtroom that he was sure all the people who wrote character references for Gardner were sincere about him being a good man. Yet, Judge Kendrick said, "The jury didn't believe you. Your credibility was not worthy. They found you guilty." The judge then sentenced Gardner to the jury's recommended 22 years behind bars.
Daniel Rice is not surprised Gardner did not admit to the crime or apologize, "Anybody who knows him, knows he has a huge ego. I don't think he has the ability to admit what he truly is."