Last week we wrote about Andrew Gardner, the Fried Frank litigation partner who was accused of rape (although never indicted), and recently found dead (presumably of suicide). We now have an update to offer.
Yesterday’s New York Post carried a long and detailed article about Gardner. And blogger Ron Coleman, who knew Gardner, had these thoughts to offer.
Excerpts and discussion, after the jump.
From Ron Coleman:
I had worked with him, as an adversary in a real estate fraud case in federal court in Brooklyn. He had it all. He was one of those people who was roughly my age — younger, damn it — regarding whom I used to say, “That guy has the career I was supposed to have.” He wasn’t just a high-earning partner in a top international firm. I saw the quality of his work: He really knew what he was doing. He had the confidence. The look. The credentials.
This was one of the lawyers I was jealous of. Not any more.
On the subject of credentials, Gardner’s were impressive: Manhattan’s elite Collegiate School, which has produced many a fine lawyer; Harvard College; and NYU Law School. And, of course, his partnership at Fried Frank — where average profits per partner come in at $1.24 million. (That figure is for equity partners; we don’t know what Gardner’s status was.)
The New York Post piece paints a similar portrait, of a high-powered young lawyer whose life took a turn for the tragic. It’s a long but worthwhile piece. Here’s our condensed version:
Andrew Gardner’s body was found under a stand of trees in a bird sanctuary in tony upstate Bedford – a mile from the sprawling gray cedar-shingled Colonial home he no longer shared with his college-sweetheart wife and their three children.
Gardner, a charming, socially connected lawyer with a prestigious New York firm, had moved out of his hillside house in Armonk and was bunking in a White Plains apartment with his recently widowed father – overwhelmed at how his storybook life was quickly unraveling.
He was living under a cloud – accused of a rape he swore he didn’t commit while attending a business conference in Atlanta in August.
After Gardner disappeared two weeks ago, his father contacted the police. A search ensued:
The officers contacted police in nearby Bedford and learned that an officer there had run the plates on Gardner’s 2004 metallic-gray BMW-325 shortly before midnight after a patrol cop spotted it parked in the Butler bird sanctuary.
When Bedford cops returned to the sanctuary, the BMW was still there, the key in the ignition.
Gardner’s body was found in the woods about 200 yards away.
It’s believed he took his own life. There were no signs of violence, no marks on his body and no evidence revealing how he died, Bedford police said.
The article then goes back in time to offer some details about the alleged rape:
Police arrested Anderw Gardner after the young woman, barefoot and wearing only underwear and a shirt, rushed out of an elevator into the lobby of Atlanta’s Westin Buckhead Hotel at 4 a.m. on Aug. 18 and asked someone to call 911.
When police arrived, the woman, a 26-year-old schoolteacher, said she had been sexually assaulted in the room Gardner was staying in while at a business conference.
They had been having drinks at a local bar, followed by drinks at a nearby penthouse apartment. And then:
“Andrew asked her if she wanted to come over to his hotel room to listen to music. Andrew’s hotel room at the Westin Buckhead was across the street from the penthouse” and the woman agreed, the report states.
“Once she got into the room, Andrew became very aggressive,” the report states. “Andrew pulled off her shirt and threw her onto the bed.”
The woman said she told him to stop, but he didn’t – “he continued by taking off her shorts and underwear,” the report states.
After performing oral sex on her, according to the woman’s account, Gardner let her go to the bathroom, where she used her cellphone to call a friend.
Had this case been indicted and taken to trial, the friend would have been a key witness. According to the report, the friend told the alleged victim to call 911 from the bathroom — but she said she was afraid of what might happen if she tried. So she emerged.
[A]fter she left the bathroom, she picked up the hotel room phone to call 911 or the front desk – but found it was disconnected.
The woman “said Andrew grabbed her from behind as she attempted to call and threw her on the bed” and then held her down and raped her, according to the police report.
When he went to the bathroom, the woman fled, knocking on doors seeking help but finally taking the elevator to the lobby.
She then filed her report, which led to Gardner’s arrest, followed by his release on bail. It was while he was on bail that Gardner died (presumably by his own hand).
Here is Gardner’s side of the story:
During [an August 24 court hearing], Gardner’s lawyer, Brian Steel, questioned the woman’s claim that she had gone to the New Yorker’s hotel room with nothing in mind but listening to music.
He also claimed that the woman – after going to the bathroom and calling her friend – returned to the room “naked . . . and gets back into bed with Mr. Gardner.”
Steel claimed that after the two had consensual sex, Gardner fell asleep and the woman left.
Gardner’s wife testified at the same hearing:
Kimberley Gardner, 40, testified she and her husband “have a very strong relationship . . . My boys . . . look to him as a role model and look to him as the amazing and strong and accomplished person that he is. And my daughter loves him so much.”
The final paragraphs of the piece:
Only one source close to Gardner would comment on his state of mind at the time of his death.
“If you spent a week in Fulton County Jail and if you knew the minimal sentence on a rape conviction in Georgia is 25 years to life, it’s going to bother you,” the friend said. “The fact that you didn’t do it and that it’s not going to go away doesn’t matter. It’s still pretty mortifying.
“So now we are left with the outcome – that a man who seemed to have everything, whose life was full of achievement and beauty and talent is gone.”
In “he said”/”she said” situations like this one, “the truth” usually ends up being whatever version of events gets validated by the jury verdict. But in this case, there will never be a trial — leaving the events of that evening a permanent mystery.
HOW ‘RAPE’ PUT TRAGIC END TO THE STORYBOOK LIFE OF N.Y. LEGAL EAGLE [New York Post]
I Knew Him [Dean's World]
Earlier: Fried Frank Partner, Accused of Rape, Found Dead