The orchestra director for KUSD’s Indian Trail High School and Academy is behind bars tonight. Nathan R. Gardner, 27, of Racine, WI was the subject of an eleven day investigation that concluded he committed several felonies. The Kenosha Police Student Resource Officer (SRO) at the high school was made aware of the disturbing allegations on October 26, 2023. KPD investigated and later learned that the allegations occurred in the Kenosha County Sheriff’s jurisdiction. Detectives from the Kenosha Sheriff’s Office began the investigation.
According to the Kenosha Unified School District, Gardner was placed on administrative leave on or before November 1, 2023. Tanya Ruder, the district’s Chief Communications Officer didn’t respond to KCE’s inquiry as to the exact date he was placed on leave.
Gardner was arrested Tuesday morning following a search warrant, according to a law enforcement source. KCE was made aware of these allegations last week, but delayed publication as to not jeopardize an ongoing investigation.
According to a source close to the investigation, Gardner had a relationship with and was sexting with a 15-year-old boy. The boy was a Freshman at Indian Trail High school when they met on the “hook-up” site “Grindr.” According to its website, Grindr is the world’s largest “social networking app” for gay, bi, trans, and queer people.The child’s profile said he was 18, but later told Gardner he was only 15. The two met in person at the teen’s Somers home when Gardner brought him ice cream. The two kissed. The two would later send sexually explicit photos of each other. The boy later learned that Gardner was a teacher at ITA. Gardner told the boy not to tell anyone. The two maintained contact until the teen’s Junior year when they eventually stopped talking. Gardner used an alias on Grindr and was hesitant at first to send a photo of his face, but later did.
The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department detective bureau asked Kenosha County DA Michael Graveley to charge Gardner with:
Felony Child Enticement
Felony Use of Computer To Facilitate Sex Crime
Felony Exposing Child to Harmful Material, and
Misdemeanor Sending of Obscene Email Messages
The DA will likely also charge Gardner with possession of child pornography if the photos are still on Gardner’s phone. During the search warrant, Detectives discovered a Samsung Cell phone with popsocket, a Samsung tablet, a KUSD MacBook PRO, and an HP all-in-one PC. The boy did tell detectives that he believed Gardner kept the child pornpography on his cellphone.
Gardner, who is openly gay, has sent school-wide emails calling himself “a gay.”
Gardner is expected to be formally charged tomorrow at 1:00 pm. Of course, KCE will be there to update you. This is a breaking story.