OREM — Former Utah County Commissioner David Gardner was put on probation Friday for an assault charge, but a judge told him that any future violations would mean jail time.

Gardner, 53, pleaded no contest May 2 in 4th District Court to an amended charge of simple assault, a class B misdemeanor, for allegedly grabbing a 26-year-old Payson woman's thigh and repeatedly kissing his fingers and touching them to her face.

"Because of your selfishness, I lost a week of my life in a psych ward away from my children and family," the victim tearfully read Friday at sentencing. "Because of your selfishness and your actions, not mine, I had to go to counseling every week for a year."

The victim explained that she had been abused as a child, thus making the repeat abuse even harder to handle.

After listening to the tearful statement, Judge John Backlund asked for Gardner's comments.

"I regret this entire incident," Gardner said. "I had no idea the fragility of her psyche or her emotional state."

Gardner said he met the woman when he went to visit a friend at an auto shop. He ended up driving with the woman and said he only touched her leg to get her to stop driving so fast.

Backlund said he was concerned that Gardner was minimizing his role in the incident and blaming the victim.

"I find your statement totally lacking in credibility," Backlund said, then sentenced Gardner to one year of probation with conditions that he not have any alcohol, not be around any females under the age of 18, not break any other laws and to continue in mental health treatment.

Gardner served two terms as a county commissioner from 1995 to 2002 and faced two misdemeanor DUI charges during that tenure.

He also recently spent 10 days in jail after pleading guilty on June 23 to a May 1 DUI. Gardner was arrested in Springville after police stopped him and discovered his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.


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