Ninth Judicial District Attorney, Andrea Reeb, announced that on October 17, 2016, Patricia Gartner, age 60, of Clovis, entered a guilty plea to seven counts of child abuse, one for each of her seven adopted children.
The charges stem from a 2015 investigation by the Clovis Police Department into the treatment of her seven adopted children. The investigation began when one of the children told a member of her church that abuse was taking place in the home. Police learned that each of the seven children has suffered abuse at the hands of Gartner. In exchange for the guilty plea, Gartner was granted a deferred sentence with five years of supervised probation. Gartner had been facing up to 29 years of imprisonment before the plea.
District Judge, Drew D. Tatum, presided over the hearing before a courtroom packed with family members, concerned citizens and three of the children. Prior to accepting the plea, Judge Tatum asked the District Attorney’s Office to explain the decision to offer the plea as it was written. Chief Deputy District Attorney, Brian Stover, told the court that he had met with each child individually and that they had asked him to make the offer. “These are amazing children,” said Stover, “After all that they went through, they still consider her to be their mother, and they asked me to show her mercy.”
The Court heard from three of the children who spoke in open court. The first child thanked Gartner for making her stronger. “You allowed me to become tempered in the fire you kept alive. The fire of fear and pain.” The youngest child recounted the abuse that she suffered in the Gartner home. With tears in her eyes she still told Gartner that she loved her. The oldest child told Gartner that she would always love her and thanked Gartner for adopting her.
Gartner adopted the seven children from Russia, Siberia and the Ukraine between 2002 and 2009. The charges that Gartner pled to involved actions occurring between June 2014 and June of 2015.
Defense attorney Michael Garrett told the court that his client took on more than she could manage with the children. He said that she knew that she had violated the law and that she was sorry. Gartner stood and apologized to the children in the room.
“This is the most sad and tragic case that I have presided over in my ten years on the bench,” said Tatum. “Don’t pat yourself on the back for not putting the kids through a trial, we are here because of your actions.” “The biggest thing that stuck out to me, most amazing thing is how strong the children are.” Tatum continued, “How clear that this is the triumph of the spirit of a child. The spirit that you all have is phenomenal.”
Gartner will report to the Adult Probation Office in Clovis to begin serving her probation. Gartner’s parental rights have been terminated and the children are all pending adoption with new families.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover prosecuted the case for the State and Gartner was represented by criminal defense attorney, Michael Garrett.
For more information, please contact the District Attorney’s Office at 575-769-2246.