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Chelsea King News: Sex Offender John Gardner Got Light Sentence in 2000 (PICTURES)

(Personal Photo)
(San Diego County Sheriff's Dept.)
(Personal Photo)
SAN DIEGO (CBS/AP) John Albert Gardner III, the sex offender suspected in the disappearance of Chelsea King, served only five years in prison for molesting a girl a decade ago after prosecutors rejected a psychiatrist's advice to seek a stiffer punishment, court documents state.

Photo: Chelsea King.

PICTURES: Chelsea King Missing
PICTURES: Chelsea King Vigil, Family Mourns

Prosecutors said in 2000 that Gardner's lack of significant prior criminal record justified less than the maximum sentence for molesting a 13-year-old girl.

They also said they wanted to "spare the victim the trauma of testifying."

Photo: John Albert Gardner III.

PICTURES: Chelsea King Missing
PICTURES: Chelsea King Vigil, Family Mourns

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday that Gardner had faced a maximum of nearly 11 years in prison under terms of his plea agreement. Prosecutors urged six years -- the sentence later ordered by a judge.

In their 11-page sentencing memo, prosecutors said Gardner "never expressed one scintilla of remorse for his attack upon the victim" despite overwhelming evidence.

Photo: Chelsea King.

PICTURES: Chelsea King Missing
PICTURES: Chelsea King Vigil, Family Mourns

The girl was beaten before escaping from his home and running to a neighbor.

Psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Carroll wrote in sentencing documents, "There is no known treatment for an individual that sexually assaults girls and does not admit to it in any way."

Gardner is now in custody without bail for investigation of murder and rape as thousands of authorities and volunteers search for the 17-year-old King, who disappeared Thursday from a wooded park in San Diego County.

Police have said they found unspecified physical evidence linking Gardner to the disappearance and would decide by Wednesday whether to file charges.

MEDIA
PICTURES: Chelsea King Missing
PICTURES: Chelsea King Vigil, Family Mourns

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  • Edecio Martinez

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