Convicted child rapist's return to Weymouth puts community on edge

WEYMOUTH, Mass. — Nearly 30 years ago, Richard Gardner was convicted in two states of kidnapping and raping children as young as 6-years-old.

Rhode Island sentenced him to 190 years in prison. Some thought he would never walk free again. But he's now back home in Massachusetts after serving far less time and neighbors aren’t happy about it.

Gardner’s crimes were brutal – haunting the Weymouth community for decades.

Gardner was 21 when he kidnapped young children so he could sexually assault and rape them, prosecutors said. In one case, he was convicted of tying a boy to a tree in Wompatuck State Park in Hingam.

“It was awful, you know, such an evil act. I mean you can't put words to it," Weymouth resident Fran Mcgaffigan said.

Gardner was convicted of the brutal sexual assaults in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A Rhode Island judge sentenced him to 190 years. Massachusetts gave him three sentences, one up to 15 years. But in 1992, the Rhode Island jury conviction was reversed and sent back to trial.

Gardner pleaded guilty before a new trial and got a much shorter sentence that ended up being about 20 years of time he would have to serve.

“Didn't he kidnap a kid out of his house at knifepoint?” Mcgaffigan asked. “How do you live with that?"

Through appeals and court petitions, Gardner has already ended up serving out all of his sentences, including what was left on his Massachusetts sentence.

He walked out of prison on Monday, 27 years after his first conviction. Weymouth police alerted residents the 49-year-old registered sex offender was living back at his family's home.

Rich Gardner was 21 when he kidnapped and sexually assaulted children in MA and RI. In one case he tied a child to a...

Posted by Robert Goulston on Friday, October 7, 2016

“That is disgusting that they would let him come back," neighbor Cassandra Chavez said.

One neighbor reported to police Gardner was acting suspiciously while walking by Thursday night.

“I saw his face peek over the fence and when I saw the fence and see him clearly,” neighbor David Taylor said. “I had asked him what his name was and he said ‘Richard.’”

Police also got a report from the Gardner's after they say someone broke their front window. Gardner's father told police his son did walk home from the bus stop Thursday night.

Gardner’s father turned down an interview with FOX25.

“Just make more publicity and I don't need it," Gardner’s father said.

Gardner will remain on probation until 2043, so if he violates that or commits another crime, he would likely go right back to prison.

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