A Kansas police officer was kicked off the force and taken into custody after a young woman came forward to accuse him of raping her several years ago.
Jonathan Gardner, 41, is charged with rape in the first degree, 12 counts of unlawful acts concerning computers, and 12 counts of official misconduct, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office (DA).
Charges were filed this week by the DA following a four-month investigation, the details of which are still being kept guarded by officials.
A spokesperson for the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) said that investigators received a call from the Lawrence Police Department on Nov. 1, 2021 regarding a potentially criminal incident involving one of their officers.
Investigators arrived to discover that a young woman had come in earlier that day to speak with police about an alleged sexual assault by a police officer almost five years prior.
The woman told police and later investigators she was raped by Gardner on January 1, 2017. She also said that Gardner was on-duty at the time of the alleged sexual assault, according to KBI investigators.
The Lawrence Times, an online news website, reported that Gardner worked with the department from 2013 until the end of November 2021.
Gardner was fired from the force a short time after the investigation began. Then, earlier this month, the former officer was arrested and charged with rape in the first degree.
The local police chief said in a statement following Gardner’s arrest that the alleged conduct is appalling and intolerable.
“I am appalled by the alleged conduct of Gardner. Those alleged actions are not consistent with the values of the department and, if true, Gardner violated the trust of the community he was sworn to serve,” said Chief Rich Lockhart of the Lawrence Police Department. “The conduct Gardner is accused of is not tolerated by the department. The department acted swiftly when notified of the allegation and is grateful to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for its investigation into this matter. Most importantly, I would like to extend my appreciation to the community member who possessed the courage and bravery to come forward and report this allegation to our agency.”
The criminal complaint alleges that Gardner “unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly engaged in sexual intercourse with a person, to-wit: SCR (DOB: 11/14/1996), which was done without the consent of SCR (DOB: 11/14/1996), and when said SCR (DOB: 11/14/1996) is incapable of giving consent because of mental deficiency or disease, or when the victim is incapable of giving consent because of the effect of any alcoholic liquor, narcotic, drug, or other substance, which condition was known by the offender or was reasonably apparent to the offender.”
Gardner faces 24 counts on two other charges, which are both detailed in the complaint.
The first charge alleges that Gardner “unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly exceed[ed] the limits of authorization and damage[d], modif[ied], alter[ed], destroy[ed], cop[ied], disclose[d] or [took] possession of a computer, computer system, computer network or any other property.”
The second charge alleges that Gardner “unlawfully use[d] confidential information acquired in the course of and related to the officer’s or employee’s office or employment for the private benefit or gain of the officer or employee or another or to intentionally cause harm to another.”
The Lawrence Police, KBI, and DA, for now, remain tight-lipped on additional details about Gardner’s alleged offenses.
“While I cannot comment on any details of an active case, I commend the Lawrence Police Department for their swift actions after learning of these allegations,” Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez told Law&Crime.
A court filing submitted by prosecutors did include their belief that the “defendant’s conduct during the commission of the charged offenses manifested excessive brutality to the victim in a manner not normally present in those offenses.”
Now, prosecutors prepare to make this case to a jury.
Gardner, meanwhile, had his bond set at $50,000, and was released on Friday from the Leavenworth County Jail.
Read the charging documents below:
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