MOBILE, Ala. -- Steve Giardini, a former sex crimes prosecutor with the Mobile County District Attorney's Office, was arrested this morning on an indictment accusing him of soliciting sex over the Internet from a 15-year-old girl, who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
Giardini, 50, was booked into Mobile County Metro Jail and released on $250,000 in bail less than two hours later.
In the case being prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General's Office, Giardini is charged with three felony counts: enticing a child under the age of 16 for intercourse, sodomy or other sexual purposes; criminally soliciting the production of child pornography; and enticing a child for sexual purposes by computer or other electronic methods.
Giardini had worked for the District Attorney's Office for nearly 20 years when an FBI agent who investigates Internet sex crimes showed up at his door on April 4, 2009 with a search warrant.
One day later, Giardini resigned his post as the prosecutor assigned to the Mobile County Child Advocacy Center.
As a Mobile County assistant district attorney, specializing in the prosecution of sex crimes and crimes against children, Steve Giardini was often quoted in the Press-Register. Here's several quotes culled from the last several years, just as they appeared in the paper, and the dates they were published:
Giardini said that the 30-year sentence showed that (the judge) appreciated "the damage done to young people at the hands of monsters such as (the defendant)." -- Nov. 27, 2008
"If you believe the child," Giardini told jurors, "you must find him guilty." -- Aug. 29, 2008.
"Nowadays, young people have these communication devices. ... The problem will get way worse before it gets better," Giardini said. "We advise parents to monitor their children's use of the Internet. With the advent of portable devices, they can get messages and even get online remotely." -- Aug. 17, 2007.
Giardini told jurors that while the teenager may have appeared to have willingly participated in sexual acts with (the defendant), she had just turned 13, and he was a middle-aged man. "Who has the greater degree of responsibility?" Giardini asked. -- Aug. 16, 2007
Giardini suggested there is "a lesson here to people -- that the Internet is not this place where you are anonymous, where you can do whatever you want and never be detected." -- Feb. 7, 2007.
As for (the defendant) finally being incarcerated, Giardini said, "I could not be more pleased for the victims, who had to discuss really embarrassing details of an overall mortifying experience at the hands of this man, who they should have been able to count on as a spiritual and educational leader." -- April 6, 2005.
"Grand juries and trial juries are very skeptical about a 14- or 15-year-old who is sneaking out of her house or skipping school to facilitate a meeting," Giardini said. "They might say, 'We think there is enough blame to go around.'" -- Nov. 29, 2004
"Obviously this guy betrayed trust placed in him professionally, through his church and socially," Giardini said. "What's worse, he was a pediatrician," specializing in the medical care of children. -- May 22, 2004.
His arrest came nearly 1 ½ years since the search, and authorities hadn't publicly talked about the investigation.
Giardini's attorney Dennis Knizley said today that his client denies the allegations in the indictment. He said he'd hoped authorities would have decided not to bring the charges so many months later.
"I know of nothing which has improved the case since that time," Knizley said.
"Someone apparently had some hesitation or reservation as to whether or not the facts could support the allegations, but someone finally concluded they could," he added.
The Attorney General's Office released a statement to the news media but declined any interviews. Prosecutors said the charges involve Giardini's communications with an FBI agent who was posing as a 15-year-old girl.
"The crimes alleged in this indictment are all the more horrifying in that the defendant was a prosecutor entrusted to protect citizens from evil and criminal wrongdoing," said Attorney General Troy King in the statement.
The FBI in Mobile released a brief statement today: "At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, the results of the investigation of the activities of ... Giardini were referred to Alabama state prosecutors for review. The FBI has provided and will continue to provide investigative and prosecutive assistance to the office of the Alabama Attorney General in this case."
Knizley said that because Giardini worked as a prosecutor in Mobile County Circuit Court, it's likely that circuit judges will recuse themselves from the case, which would require a judge from another circuit to be appointed.
The Child Advocacy Center helps victims of child abuse and coordinates investigations of child sexual abuse. As the prosecutor assigned to the center, Giardini oversaw the district attorney's response to some 1,000 complaints a year.
In response to Giardini's arrest, District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said he was "completely disappointed in all of these developments."
He said the work of the Child Advocacy Center continues, and Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood -- who Tyson said he has high hopes for -- is now assigned to the center.
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