After Gardner's arrest, a probation report from the molestation incident ten years earlier was released to the public and indicated, according to a psychiatrist who examined him at that time, that Gardner possessed "significant predatory traits" with regard to young underage girls. The psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew F. Carroll, recommended that Gardner should be kept in prison for as long as possible.
According to the probation officer's report, in which Dr. Carroll was quoted several times, Gardner "does not suffer from a psychotic disorder. He is simply a bad guy who is inordinately interested in young girls." Gardner's "predilection toward younger girls is a problem. He manifests significant predatory traits and is a danger to the community."
The report said that Gardner had maintained a 3.2 grade-point-average in high school, and possessed a relatively high IQ. He had worked at a number of jobs as an adult including construction, lifeguard, a theme park ride operator, a fast-food job, and other positions including a clerk at a sporting goods store. Because Gardner had no prior criminal record at the time he molested the 13-year-old girl, the probation officer recommended a six-year prison term, about half of what could have been recommended. The sentencing judge agreed, and Gardner served five years in prison before making parole.
Not everyone, however, considered Gardner a "bad guy." He was characterized by family and friends as being caring and sympathetic toward others. His supporters noted that he was known to shovel snow and carry groceries for a neighbor, and had cared for a sick girlfriend by holding a cool compress on her head for several hours to comfort her. One of his former girlfriends from high school said that he was "the one person who has made me feel completely safe in this world."