Former teacher indicted

Meeting Monday, the Oconee Grand Jury returned six indictments charging a former school teacher and coach with sex crimes involving minors. Some of the indictments charging Richard Onley Gardner III contain multiple counts, alleging offenses involving a child under adult legal age. The indictments returned allow the prosecutor’s office to take the cases to the Oconee General Sessions Court. The indictments allege the following offenses: criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 14 second degree; criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 16 second degree; and committing or attempting lewd act on a child. Gardner previously worked for the Oconee School District as a teacher at Walhalla Middle School and wrestling coach at Walhalla High School. The Oconee Sheriff’s Department announced Gardner’s arrest in September at his place of work in the public schools in Chesterfield County. It said the investigation arose from report on September 6, 2002, alleging sexual abuse by Gardner on former students between 1998 and 2003. The indictments returned Monday identify two of the alleged victims, by initials and birth date only.