5th Duke of Cleveland hoax
mug shot of Gardner taken in 2004
September 4, 1983 |
Minnesota, United States
|Other names||Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, 5th Duke of Cleveland|
|Conviction(s)||criminal sexual conduct, probation violation|
The 5th Duke of Cleveland hoax garnered media attention in January 2006 after Joshua Adam Gardner (born September 4, 1983) allegedly misrepresented himself to the students and staff of Stillwater Area High School in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota as a fictional fifth Duke of Cleveland from England.
When student journalists began researching Gardner's identity, they soon discovered his listing in an online Florida database as a registered sex offender based on Gardner's 2003 Minnesota conviction for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Students informed school authorities, who contacted police. Gardner was booked for violating the terms of his probation in relation to his activities at the school, including contact with minors. Gardner's parole officer recommended that Gardner serve out the 21 months of prison that had been stayed after his conviction in 2003. Gardner was incarcerated in Carver County, Minnesota on April 20, 2006 and released on August 21, 2006 under "intensive supervised release" with supervision to expire on August 19, 2011.
Visits to Stillwater Area High School
The 22 year-old Gardner allegedly visited Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota three times, telling students he was 17-year-old Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, 5th Duke of Cleveland and expressing an interest in enrolling in the high school. Assuming an English accent, Gardner reportedly insisted on being called "your Grace", claimed he was 27th in line for the British throne and that he was friends with Prince Harry.
Student journalists with the monthly Pony Express student newspaper became suspicious when he reportedly misspelled the name of the castle he claimed to live in. Their subsequent investigation included a call to the British consulate in Chicago and scouring the internet, both confirming that the Dukedom of Cleveland does not currently exist, having been extinct since 1891. The students then found an entry about "Caspian James Crichton Stuart IV" on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia that had been marked for deletion and were able to derive from the deletion discussion Gardner's real name. Students subsequently found that in 2002 he had been convicted of 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct, a conviction for coercing a 14-year-old girl to have sex.
The school's principal indicated that no problems had been noted resulting from Gardner's visits and that staff members had supervised Gardner's visits to the school.
In July 2006, Gardner was arrested and charged on three sexual-conduct charges, including two felonies, following allegations involving a 15-year-old boy in Chanhassen, Minnesota, during the summer of 2005, several months before the Stillwater High School incident. Carver County prosecutors said Gardner used the same fake identity with the Chaska High School student, who came forward after seeing media coverage of Gardner in January. As of February 2010[update] Gardner was incarcerated in Rush City, Minnesota with an expected release date of September 3, 2010.
- Goldberg, Scott. Sex offender accused of trying to pass as 'royal' student Kare 11 News, Minneapolis. Accessed September 13, 2007
- Student reporters expose 'royal' sex offender ABC News. January 13, 2006. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- Sex offender unmasked MSNBC. Accessed September 12, 2007.
- Sex offender - Joshua Adam Gardner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sexual Offender/Predator Unit flyer (November 2005)
- Royal Imposter Charged In Chaska Sex Crime July 6, 2006. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- Offender Information Minnesota Department of Corrections Offender Database. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- Mount, Harry. (January 19, 2006) I'm the Duke of Cleveland, said schoolboy with a guilty secret. Telegraph UK. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- WP:Articles for deletion/Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV (Joshua Adam Gardner), 5th Duke of Cleveland
- Minnesota statute defining 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct
- You're fake your grace, Sydney Morning Herald, 2006-01-17 Accessed September 13, 2007.