Palm Beach Doctor Accused of Sexually Assaulting Runaway
A Palm Beach dermatologist has been accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy who ran away from his group home. The teen ran away from his group home with a friend and both teens were found later with their Guardian ad Litem, 63-year-old Mark Robert Gardner. The teen told a Child Protection Team that he would often visit Gardner when he escaped his group home. Gardner took him out to eat and bought him various products.
According to the police, Gardner gave him and the other teen pot to smoke. The boy says he told Gardner that the pot was making him tired and that he laid down on Gardner’s bed in order to sleep it off. When the boy woke up, he found Gardner in only his boxers and Gardner laid down beside him rubbing up against the boy. According to the boy, Gardner pulled down the boy’s pants but did not fight back because he felt weak after smoking the pot.
The boy further claims that Gardner gave him $20 in cash and $120 worth of pot and made the offer to have him move in once he turned 18. The boy claims that Gardner wanted to be his “sugar daddy”.
Gardner’s Guardian ad Litem had been Revoked
Prior to the alleged assault, Gardner’s status as the boy’s Guardian ad Litem had been revoked after the boy moved to a different facility in November of 2018. Gardner was nonetheless able to use his credentials as the boy’s Guardian ad Litem to check the boy out of his current group home.
Gardner was also a volunteer dermatologist with Palm Beach County high school’s athletic department. Why the athletic department employed a dermatologist is one of the many odd questions surrounding this case. The Palm Beach athletic department claims it has no record of Gardner ever performing dermatology on any of its students.
Police say that Gardner selected boys between the ages of 8 and 18 on his Guardian ad Litem application. In other words, it appears that Gardner used the GAL volunteer program to recruit victims.
Prosecutors Will Rely on Witness Testimony
In a case like this, witness testimony is imperative to making the case. Should Gardner plead not-guilty to the molestation, the credibility of the witness will be the sole piece of prosecutorial evidence against Gardner since there is no forensic evidence. If evidence can be shown that Gardner checked the boy out with false credentials and a search of his home produces marijuana, then Gardner will likely be dead to rights. If the boy escaped the group home and fled to Gardner’s apartment, Gardner can claim that the boy used the threat of filing a false police report for the purpose of extortion.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
In some cases, children make up false stories about adults they want to get back at. When that happens, you need a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney who understands the stakes and will advocate on your behalf. The Skier Law Firm P.A. has experience with these types of cases. Contact us today.