<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Elizabeth Leigh Garner, Innocent or Guilty? Despite accepting 'light' sentence, ex-NFL Cheerleader denies Sex Assault of 12-Year-old Boy

By Frank Parlato

The media’s favorite shot of Garner,  to enhance interest in a child rape case.
Elizabeth Garner, as she appears now, is claiming she is innocent.
Garner’s mug shot. Did she mistake a boy for a man? Was she set up? Or did she try to seduce a boy?
What did not get reported was that Garner was beaten on the night of the alleged attempted child rape by the boy’s mother. What are the true facts?
Garner gained publicity as one of the oldest NFL cheerleaders.
The pictures on this page were used repeatedly in the press. Many of the online comments were to the effect that the average 12 year old boy would not object to what Garner is alleged to have done. Others said she got off easy because she is a woman. Few believed her story. One thing is certain: she held out for a plea deal that did not require her to admit guilt. The judge agreed. She is not a convicted sex offender. But her fate is just as though she was. She is too well known to be anonymous. Unless she can somehow prove
her innocence, she is marked as though she had confessed to the crime.

It was reported last month that former NFL cheerleader Elizabeth Leigh Garner, 42, of Nashville, Ten., was sentenced to 18 months probation on a charge of reckless endangerment.

Garner was accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy.

Most of the media reports - from Fox News, to the Toronto Sun, to CBS - featured Garner's mug shot, along with scantily clad photos of her when she was a Tennessee Titans cheerleader between 2005 and 2008.

What was not specifically mentioned in the hundreds of stories and blogs on the topic was that Garner never admitted the crime.

Instead of the normal allocution - where one confesses before the judge - Rutherford County Circuit Court Judge David Bragg and County Prosecutor Laural Hemenway consented to Garner's pleading of "no contest," a plea where one takes the punishment without admitting crime.

In Garner's case, it was a radical reduction from the original charges which were "aggravated sexual battery" and "solicitation of a minor for rape of a child," that carry a possible 10-year sentence plus registry as a sex offender afterward.

Garner has no jail, no registry. No admission of guilt.

In February, Garner, who is married, was at a party at the home of a female friend.

Late at night, she allegedly followed her host's 12-year-old son and cornered him in a bathroom.

According to police reports, the boy told police she followed him into the bathroom, touched him outside his pants, attempted to pull his shorts off, offered him oral sex and asked the boy, "if he had ever been with a woman.”

What happened next went almost entirely unreported: the mother of the boy beat Garner unconscious.

Referring to the night of the party, County Prosecutor Hemenway said, "When the little boy told [his mother] whatever he told her, she [went] over and beat Ms. Garner up pretty severely and Ms. Garner was unconscious on the floor of the apartment or the house that she was in and she had to be taken to the emergency room."

Pictures taken afterward show Garner with a black eye, cuts on her knee and a large chunk of her hair missing.

After she knocked Garner unconscious and the ambulance called, and facing possible assault charges herself, the boy's mother called the Murfeesboro police and alleged Garner sexually molested her son.

About a month later, police say, Garner confessed to the facts but not the intent to abuse a child.

According to his report, Police Detective Tommy Roberts said, "Ms. Garner, who was advised of her Miranda rights, stated that she was drunk that evening and that she got the boy confused with a man who also was at the residence.”

Garner was arrested on March 14 and released on $30,000 bail.

Accompanied by her husband, Garner told WTVF TV News she was innocent.

In June, she turned down a plea offer. According to reports she said she had a recording of the boy's mother threatening to make a false sex abuse charge against her, possibly connected with a "tumultuous" relationship the woman was having with Garner's brother.

At 5' 2," Garner, who grew up on a farm and weighed 110 pounds when she was with the Titans, attracted attention as being one of, if not the oldest cheerleader in the NFL at the time at 38.

Before joining the Titans in 2005, she was a cheerleader for the Nashville Kats. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in nutrition. She worked as a ballroom dance instructor. At the time of her arrest, she was employed at a restaurant and was fired, she said, when the scandal broke.

In a 2008 interview, she said her favorite moment as a Titans cheerleader was "when my husband proposed to me in the middle of practice with 20 dozen roses!"

She worked as a nanny at the time.

As part of her sentencing, Garner agreed to drug testing and to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week.

She was ordered to stay away from the boy and his family.

Last week, Garner spoke publicly for the first time after her sentencing.

"Nobody has cared about my side of the story," Garner told WKRN TV News. "The truth, they just hear what is printed and what is written in the paper, just annihilating my character. I just feel like it's only fair that I get my side of the story out."

"What I want them to know is that I would never, ever in my life, do that to a child," she said on camera. "I don't have it in me."

Is Elizabeth Leigh Garner a pedophile who got off easy?

Was Garner too drunk to know a boy from a man?

Did the boy lie? Will the boy's mother be arrested for assault or perjury?

Is Garner telling the truth?



Here are some of the thousands of comments found on news sites and blogs during the last year. They provide some interesting points of views:

For example:

A perfect example of our corrupt injustice system. Had she been black she would be going to jail. Had a man raped a woman he would be going to jail.

If the genders were reversed, would it still be 18 months?

Mistook the 12 year old for a man at the party...A man that was not her husband.

This cougar needs to be in a cage.

A male child being fondled by an adult female is not the same as a female child being fondled by an adult male. Ask most men what they would have thought at age 12 if a woman this hot had hit on them. They would have loved it. Sex is not the same between boys and girls and men and women.

(Since) girls mature at an earlier age than boys … If anything she's a worse pedophile.

What kind of RETARDED 12 yr old boy did not jump on this opportunity? This kid probably just went from being the coolest kid in the country to being a complete dork for the rest of his life with one poorly made decision.

13 or 14, maybe we don't hear about it. But 12 is really young. Even in biblical times 12 is too young.

Dumb kid missed the chance of a lifetime.

Damn, if I tapped that when I was 12, I'd be strutting around like a prize rooster afterwards. And my folks would be proud.

She must be one stanky ho to have a 12 yr. old turn her down.

Her husband stood by her and defending her actions, saying, “she thought the boy was a man.”

Women are allowed to get away with all kinds of bullshit because society treats women like children.

Being drunk is not an excuse when it comes to sexual assault or rape… if it is a man …. Women who drink to excess are … victims of the alcohol.

If a man started fondling a 12 year old boy people would be calling for the death penalty but since it’s some crusty old whore, people are going to mock this boy for preventing himself from getting raped.

If this 12 year old HAD allowed himself to be seduced, wouldn’t HE technically be the rapist for having sex with a drunken woman?

Really, props to the kid and his mom for reacting so fast.

It’s just impossible these days for some 42 year old Barbie blond bladdered bimbo to rape a 12 year old boy without people complaining … It’s so unfair…

Men are “predators”.  Women are “seductresses”. Men are coercive, aggressive and deranged perverts that “groom” their victims. Women are gentle, kind and sometimes a little confused about boundaries.

The boy must be a real pole smoker to turn that down at that age.

You clearly do not know what informed consent means. There are Orangutans that want to have sex with humans.

Professional cheerleaders are paid an hourly wage only when they're cheering or doing promotional events. To make extra money Leigh Garner used to work as a nanny......has she done this crime with other boys??

Why do we protect female offenders? This should not be acceptable to make an excuse for someone that sexually assaulted a minor.

She could have gone nearly anywhere in the world and found many most willing participants of the male persuasion, but she finds one of the very few unwilling, or not ready to accept her offer and (he) tells his mother of his discomfort. Wow! Can she pick 'em or what??? Gotta be karmic to send such a shock. I wonder how busy her Facebook page is now?

A blonde cheerleader for NFL!! I guess the judge was a man and thinking… that was one lucky little boy...

At 12, I would have bent that ho over the toilet.

Boys today, they just wear clothes they shouldn't. What was he wearing for Christ's sake to force that poor woman to act that way? HE should be punished!





Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Dec 03, 2013