A man accused of raping a 20-year-old woman while he was on duty as a Lawrence police officer was formally charged during a court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
Jonathan Gardner, 41, of Tonganoxie, was arrested March 4 in connection with the rape charge, 12 felony counts of unlawful acts concerning computers, and 12 misdemeanor counts of official misconduct, according to the charges filed in Douglas County.
Gardner appeared with defense attorney John DeMarco in the courtroom of Douglas County District Court Judge Pro Tem Blake Glover on Tuesday.
Court documents allege that in 2017, Gardner engaged in sex with a 20-year-old who was incapable of giving consent because of intoxication or, in the alternative, who was overcome by force or fear. The additional charges regarding computers and official misconduct are dated in conjunction with the rape charge.
The charges against Gardner came after a community member made a complaint to the LPD’s Office of Professional Accountability in November. LPD then passed the complaint on to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
The Douglas County district attorney’s office filed charges against Gardner on Feb. 22. On March 2, DA Suzanne Valdez and Deputy DA Joshua Seiden filed a motion for an upward departure on sentencing should Gardner be convicted, citing “excessive brutality to the victim in a manner not normally present in those offenses.” The rape charge is a level-1 felony, considered very severe.
The other 24 counts are low-level felonies and misdemeanors. In a news release last week, the KBI said the “charges of official misconduct and unlawful acts with computers claim Gardner committed illegal and unauthorized searches of the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System (KCJIS), as well as internal police department public safety systems between 2017 and 2020.”
According to records from the Kansas Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (CPOST), Gardner was a member of the LPD from June 4, 2013, through Nov. 29, 2021, or about 8 1/2 years.
Gardner was arrested the morning of March 4 and taken into custody in Leavenworth County. He was held on a $50,000 own-recognizance bond, meaning he didn’t have to pay anything to be released, and he was out of jail that afternoon. As a condition of pretrial release, Gardner is to have no contact with any witnesses. He will need to report to his pretrial release officer.
An investigation into the allegations continues, according to the KBI.
Gardner’s next hearing is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 30. He and DeMarco declined to comment Tuesday.
All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.