Seven hours passed before she took her 3-year-old daughter to the hospital. In that time, the woman testified Friday, she was offered hush money and went so far as to drive to meet the man who is now charged with raping her little girl.(Should defendants determined to be dangerous be held longer than 90 days? Open the story to take our poll and to share your opinion.)

Seven hours passed before she took her 3-year-old daughter to the hospital. In that time, the woman testified Friday, she was offered hush money and went so far as to drive to meet the man who is now charged with raping her little girl.


In a tense 20 minutes of testimony, the 25-year-old mother of two recalled being in a state of stunned anguish after her daughter claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the woman’s new boyfriend. She said her 8-year-old son confirmed the man had carried away his sister in the night to a bathroom in his Kingston home.


And that, at 11 a.m., the family of three hastily left the house while Joseph H. Gardner slept.


The dangerousness hearing at Plymouth District Court ended with Judge John Julian ordering Gardner, 26, held without bail for 90 days, saying there was probable cause for the child-rape charge.


“I make the rather distinct note that the defendant is on bail” in a similar case, Julian said, pointing out Gardner has been indicted on charges of child rape and breaking and entering in an August case involving a 5-year-old Kingston girl.


Gardner’s attorney, Jack Atwood, used the hearing to raise questions about the mother’s truthfulness and how forthcoming she was with investigators.


The woman said she went to high school with Gardner and began dating him a month ago after a chance encounter. The morning after the sleep-over at his house, she said, her daughter’s pull-up diaper was missing. The little girl claimed Gardner raped her in a bathroom, she said.


Her account of the rest of the day was less clear. She repeatedly said she was unsure of details.


“I don’t remember; I was stressed out and in shock,” she said at one point, explaining why she did not initially tell police she saw Gardner that afternoon.


Asked if she deleted text messages exchanged with Gardner, she replied: “I think so.”


After returning home that morning, the woman said she spent part of the afternoon with her parents, who urged that she take her daughter to Jordan Hospital, which she did at about 6 p.m.


The woman said she called Gardner “to confront him,” testifying he pleaded with her not to go to police and alternately offered to pay for her silence and threatened to murder her loved ones.


Atwood asked if she agreed to take the money.


“I think I may have agreed because I was scared,” she said. “He threatened to kill my family if I said anything.”


At first, the woman said, she later saw Gardner “for two seconds” but couldn’t recall where. Eventually, she said, “He had me follow him to some house, but I turned around and left.”


The Patriot Ledger is withholding the woman’s name to keep from identifying an alleged victim of a sex crime.


Gardner was seated in an orange prison jumpsuit, his hands and feet shackled. He made no eye contact with the woman.


Peter Maguire, the Plymouth prosecutor assigned to the case, seemed intent to dispel any insinuations from Atwood, asking the woman at one point, “Did you invent this in order to extort money?”


“No,” she responded flatly.


Afterward, Atwood said in an interview he found it strange the woman claimed to have tried to meet the man who allegedly raped her daughter. He said the woman told investigators her motivation was to kill Gardner.


“Seems even stranger she can’t account for her time during the afternoon,” he said. “Even worse, she doesn’t call the police but instead goes to the hospital.”


John P. Kelly at The Patriot Ledger may be reached at jkelly@ledger.com.