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Molestation testimony heard

March 24, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The victim in a case of alleged child molestation in Washington County was in Franklin County Court on Tuesday to testify in a Pennsylvania molestation case involving the same defendant.

Judge John R. Walker told the jury the testimony of the 12-year-old boy could not be used to determine the guilt or innocence of David S. Ardinger onthe charges he faces in Pennsylvania. The evidence could be used to determine if there was a "common scheme or plan" in both instances, Walker said.

Ardinger, 38, of 12211 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, Pa., was charged by Pennsylvania State Police with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault and indecent assault involving a boy in summer 2000, according to court documents. The charges were filed in February 2002, after authorities in Maryland began investigating the incident in Hagerstown, according to testimony Tuesday by Kenneth Barnhart, a detective with the Washington County Sheriff's Department, and Pennsylvania State Trooper Matthew Gordon.

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On Monday, the victim in the Pennsylvania case, now 15, testified Ardinger befriended him and bought him gifts. The boy testified he was molested three times while sleeping over at Ardinger's home.

The Hagerstown boy testified he met Ardinger prior to Christmas in 2001 at the housing complex where he lives and Ardinger worked as a security guard. He testified that over several weeks Ardinger took him to movies, shopping and dirt biking, either alone or with other children.

On Jan. 15, 2002, Ardinger stayed overnight at the boy's house, according to the boy's testimony. During the night, he testified, he awoke to find Ardinger fondling him.

"You shouldn't tell anybody, or you'll get in trouble," the boy testified Ardinger told him. The boy testified he told his mother the next day.

Under cross-examination by Ardinger's attorney, George Matangos, the boy denied he dreamed the incident.

After the prosecution rested its case, Matangos called Ardinger's ex-wife, Fonda Ardinger, as his first witness. She was subpoenaed as a prosecution witness, but was not called to testify.

Fonda Ardinger testified she and her ex-husband were involved in a custody battle she described as "bitter." She testified she made claims of child molestation against him as early as 1998 and admitted referring to the boys he spent time with as "his little boyfriends."

On cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom, Fonda Ardinger denied she conspired with the victim's mother to concoct the allegations as part of the custody battle. She also denied her son and the victim made up the story so she could have sole custody.

The case is expected to go to the jury today.

Ardinger, a former Maryland Correctional Institution guard, has been in jail since his arrest in February 2002, Krom said.

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