ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A 27-year-old St. Augustine man is facing felony charges after deputies with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said he sent explicit photos to a 14-year-old girl.
Michael Gardner was arrested on a charge of cruelty towards children by means of transmitting nude images and public order crimes by way of using an electronic device to transmit those nude images.
The investigation into Gardner began Tuesday morning when deputies were called to a home in St. Augustine in reference to a possible home invasion. According to the arrest report, a 17-year old girl told deputies she was confronted by an unknown man later identified as Gardner. Gardner was reportedly lying in the teen’s 14-year old sister’s bed. The report states during the confrontation, the 17-year old ran to her bedroom and locked the door as Gardner was running out the back door of the house.
During the course of the investigation, the report said that deputies learned Gardner had been engaged in a relationship with the 14-year-old during the last 2-and-a-half months.
According to the arrest report, further investigation revealed Gardner had been sending nude images of himself along with selfies to the 14-year old’s cell phone.
The report said that on Thursday afternoon, Gardner agreed to meet with a detective to be interviewed about his relationship with the 14-year old girl.
The report states that during the interview, Gardner admitted that he was the person in the texted images and he also admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl.
The report also states that Gardner admitted to the detective that he has sex with the minor on several occasions between November 2019 and January 2020. He reportedly told the detective that he felt he would eventually get into trouble.
As of Friday afternoon, Gardner remained in the St. John’s County Jail on a $5,000 bond. Gardner is listed in the Jail booking site as homeless.
According to the Florida Dept. of Corrections, in August of 2014, Gardner was sentenced to one year in prison after he was convicted of attempted robbery with a deadly weapon. He was released from prison in January of 2015.
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