Judge dismisses charge against sex offender

Following are excerpts from an article in The Providence Journal

Recent misdemeanor charges against Richard Gardner, a registered sex offender who caused a stir among neighbors when he moved to Providence last month, were dismissed Monday in District Court.

At a probationviolation hearing in Superior Court, Warwick, on Monday morning, Judge Bennett Gallo ruled that the misdemeanor charge did not constitute a violation of Gardner’s probation.

“There was no intent to mislead here,” he said of Gardner placing his old address on the marriage license. “I can only conclude that these charges would never have been brought if it involved someone other than the defendant, Richard Gardner.

“I think some would like to use the situation to revisit the sentence imposed in the child-molestation case,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island released a statement Monday night saying that Gardner was targeted by police because of his previous conviction.

“Clearly, Richard Gardner was arrested several weeks ago because of his past crimes — not because he put his old address on his marriage certificate,” the statement says. “We are very pleased with the judge’s decision and his comments to the effect that this isn’t how the justice system is supposed to work. The abuse of power by the Cranston police several weeks ago harms us all because it undermines the rule of law.”

Outside the courtroom, Gardner’s wife said her husband was misunderstood.

“I love my husband,” said Patricia Gardner. “I support my husband and I think that the right decision was made.”

She said she has known Richard Gardner since before he went to prison more than 30 years ago.

“He went in as a confused teenager,” she said. “He came out a 51-year-old man. He is not the same person.”

 She said she just wanted them to be able to live a normal life.

“He’s accepted responsibility for his crimes,” she said. “When is enough enough?”

Richard Gardner and other sex offenders are often demonized in the media, Patricia Gardner said. She said she wished people would just get to know her husband.

“He is the most laid-back, most sensitive, most caring man,” she said. “He has no desire to hurt anyone. We just want to live our life and be as normal as we can possibly be.”

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