GLASGOW – A middle school teacher accused of having sexual encounters with a 13-year-old female student has chosen to waive a preliminary hearing in district court and send the case directly to a grand jury.
William K. Gardner, 27, of Glasgow was arrested Oct. 26 after being interviewed at the Barren County Sheriff's Office, which was investigating a sexual abuse case.
The student told BCSO detective Adam Bow that Gardner, “had, on at least five occasions, had sexual contact with the female,” according to Gardner's arrest citation.
Gardner is charged with three counts of second-degree rape with no force, a Class C felony; five counts of first-degree sexual abuse, a Class D felony; and one count of tampering with physical evidence, also a Class D felony.
He had appeared in Barren District Court last week for his arraignment, and District Judge Gabe Pendleton advised that those charged with felonies cannot enter a guilty plea there. A plea of not guilty is thus presumed. In district court, Gardner's choice was to send the case to a grand jury for it to decide whether to levy the formal charges with an indictment or to have a preliminary hearing, after which the judge would decided whether sufficient probable cause for the charges existed, in which case it would then be forwarded to a grand jury.
During the appearance last week, Gardner advised he did not have an attorney yet, and Pendleton advised the Department of Public Advocacy that it would have the case, and the proceeding was continued to this week.
Attorney Steve Thornton represented Gardner on Thursday afternoon, and advised the judge of the client's waiver of the hearing as well as formal reading of the charges.
Gardner has remained lodged at the Barren County Detention Center in lieu of a $75,000 cash bond since his arrest, and Thornton requested an alternate arrangement.
The defense attorney acknowledged Thursday that this is a “serious case. There's' no question about that …, but there are some ways to protect those around him and protect him as well.”
Thornton asked that Gardner be placed on “home incarceration or something like that.”
“His wife is ready for him to come home. He has two young children,” Thornton said.
A woman in the front row of the gallery sighed audibly around that time.
Commonwealth's Attorney John Gardner, who would be the prosector if William Gardner is indicted, said he would oppose any type of bond modification, but if it were provided, he would want certain restrictions. His discussion of those was barely audible from the gallery.
“I don't think I want to change the bond at this moment,” Pendleton said, noting the circumstances and the charges.
The woman in the front row audibly cried out and then another woman and she left the courtroom, and a few moments later, so did the defendant and his attorney.
John Gardner said he has no known familial relationship to the defendant, but if he did, he would recuse himself from the case.
Barren County Schools released a statement the day of the arrest that included the following:
"Barren County Schools takes all allegations of sexual misconduct extremely seriously and is fully cooperating with law enforcement at this time. The school district will continue to closely monitor the situation and will take all appropriate actions necessary to protect our students."