Ex-Walhalla coach accused of molesting boys - FOX Carolina 21

Ex-Walhalla coach accused of molesting boys

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Richard Gardner appears before an Oconee Co. judge. (Sept. 28, 2012/FOX Carolina) Richard Gardner appears before an Oconee Co. judge. (Sept. 28, 2012/FOX Carolina)
Richard Gardner (Oconee Co. Detention Center) Richard Gardner (Oconee Co. Detention Center)
WALHALLA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A former Oconee County teacher, who also coached wrestling, is in jail accused of molesting two young boys while working for the district.

Captain Travis Tilson of the Oconee County Sheriff's Office told FOX Carolina that investigators believe there may be more victims.

Investigators said 39-year-old Richard ‘Trey' Gardner was arrested Thursday afternoon and booked into the Oconee County Detention Center.

Tilson said Oconee County deputies arrested Gardner with the help of Lancaster County deputies at his place of employment with the Chesterfield County School District.

His address listed with the jail shows that he now lives in Kershaw, SC.

His bond was set at $720,000 and during the hearing, a judge ordered Gardner not to have contact with any of the victims and will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device if he posts bail.

During his bond hearing Friday morning, Gardner requested a public defender.

Gardner was charged with 11 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor second degree. He also faces 13 counts of committing and attempting a lewd act on a minor under 16.

The dates on the warrants issued for Gardner range between Aug. 1, 1998 and July 31, 2003. Tilson said deputies were first contacted by one of the victims when a report was filed on Sept. 6, 2012.

According to the warrants, one of the boys alleged Gardner sexually assaulted him in a truck in the parking lot of Walhalla Middle School in 1999. The warrant stated the boy was 13 years old at the time.

Another warrant accuses Gardner of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 2003 at an address in Walhalla. Deputies said the victims were former students of Gardner's.

There are a total of 24 warrants accusing Gardner of having sexual encounters with the boys in various locations of Oconee County.

Oconee County Superintendent Mike Lucas confirmed Gardner was employed as a teacher/coach between 1995 and 2005. He left the district in May 2005. Tilson said Gardner was a teacher at Walhalla Middle School and the wrestling coach at Walhalla High School.

Lucas declined to comment any further and referred FOX Carolina to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office.

Ken Buck, a spokesman, for the Chesterfield County School District said Gardner has been employed with the district since 2005 as a physical education teacher/coach, but is currently on administrative leave.

Buck said Gardner worked previously at New Heights Middle School in Jefferson, SC, and this school year he is teaching physical education at Pageland Central High School, also in the district.

"I can confirm that during his time in the district he had been a middle school athletic director but I can't confirm the length of time," Buck explained.

FOX Carolina is working to get more information on this developing story and will have continuous updates at foxcarolina.com.

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