Joel Gardner – Repeat Sex Offender

A former Upper Pottsgrove man who has a previous conviction for corrupting minors has admitted to possessing child pornography on his home computer equipment.

Joel Gardner, 34, formerly of the 1400 block of Chestnut Grove Road, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to felony charges of sexual abuse of children, possessing child pornography, in connection with a July 2008 incident.

The open plea means prosecutors have no deals with Gardner regarding his potential punishment.

Judge William R. Carpenter deferred sentencing so that probation officials can complete a background investigative report about Gardner. The judge will use that report to assist him in sentencing Gardner at a later date.

Gardner, who most recently listed an address along Willowwood Drive in Douglassville, faces a possible maximum sentence of 10½ to 21 years in prison on the charges.

Gardner, who remains in prison without bail pending sentencing, also must be evaluated by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offender Assessment Board to determine if he meets criteria under the state’s Megan’s Law to be declared a sexually violent predator. Those deemed to be predators face more stringent restrictions under Megan’s Law including a lifetime requirement to report their addresses to state police once they’re released from prison and mandatory counseling.

Court documents indicate county probation officials visited Gardner’s Chestnut Grove Road home on July 28 and seized computer equipment that contained hundreds of child pornographic images. The images depicted girls who appeared to be between 8 and 12 years old, according to the arrest affidavit.

Some of the images depicted children under 13 either engaged in a sex act or showing their genitals, the criminal complaint alleged.

At the time of his arrest, Gardner was serving probation in connection with a September 2006 conviction of a misdemeanor charge of corruption of a minor. Gardner had been sentenced to three years’ probation on Sept. 12, 2006, according to court records.

In the 2006 case, Upper Pottsgrove police alleged Gardner approached a 16-year-old girl who worked at a local fast-food restaurant on Jan. 21, 2006, and offered to pay her $100 if she would have sex with him or get nude for him, according to an arrest affidavit.

The girl went to police told authorities that Gardner had come to the restaurant on numerous occasions since 2005 and harassed her with talk of a sexual nature and slapped her on the butt, according to the arrest affidavit.

Gardner’s latest child porn arrest represented a violation of his previous probation and he faces having to serve up to four years in back prison time for violating the 2006 probation.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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