On Thursday, January 17, Jonathan David Gardner, a 30-year-old Granite Falls man, pled guilty to felony 3rd Degree Criminal Sex Conduct for engaging in sex with a 13-year-old girl while he worked as the Upper Sioux Tribal Tobacco Coordinator.
Gardner will be sentenced, according to the Yellow Medicine County Attorney, on March 14. The maximum sentence for 3rd Degree Criminal Sex Conduct is 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
Allegedly, Gardner, while working as the Tribal Tobacco Coordinator, initiated a relationship with an unidentified minor in February 2012, which escalated to sexual intercourse within Gardner’s home. Gardner engaged in sexual contact with the minor from roughly March 1 to May 31 of 2012.
According to court documents, the Upper Sioux Police Department was alerted by tribal officials of inappropriate conduct by Gardner on June 12. On that date, board members from the Upper Sioux Community Board of Trustees reported that the mother of the victim had informed them that Gardner had attempted to kiss her daughter on the lips while the two of them were alone during a youth trip to the Pipestone quarry that Gardner had planned through the Upper Sioux Community. Gardner and three other adults chaperoned the trip.
On June 12, Gardner was placed on administrative leave and escorted from his office by Upper Sioux Police. On Gardner’s work computer, police found over 250 adult pornography pictures, several pictures that Gardner took of his own genitalia and a photo of Gardner having sex with an unidentifiable female.
On June 15 a search warrant was served on Gardner’s residence at 865 8th Ave. in Granite Falls. On June 30 Gardner was released from YMC Jail on a $50,000 conditional bond.