Michael Armin Gardner was convicted of molesting two girls who attended a slumber party for his daughter's 10th birthday. An Arlington County Circuit Court jury was unable to reach a verdict on a charge related to the third child. The 50-year-old former chairman of the Democratic committee in Falls Church was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
In a 6-1 ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court said the trial judge improperly barred two character witnesses from testifying about whether Gardner had a reputation as a good caretaker of children. Their testimony was limited to Gardner's general reputation for honesty and peacefulness.