Court documents detail suspect's disturbing past

Crime, Law and JusticeJails and PrisonsTrials and ArbitrationCrimeJustice SystemSexual Assault

Court documents obtained by Fox 5 News paint a disturbing picture of John Gardner III, the convicted sexual predator arrested Sunday in connection with the disappearance of 17-year-old Poway teen Chelsea King. As the search for King continues, Gardner sits behind bars, booked on suspicion of rape and murder.

In 2000, just shy of his 21st birthday, Gardner pleaded guilty to two felony counts of committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 and one felony count of false imprisonment. According to Superior Court documents obtained by Fox 5 News, Gardner picked up his 13-year-old victim, a former neighbor, as she waited at a school bus stop on March 16, 2000. The victim went with Gardner to watch a movie at his home.

According to court documents, Gardner began touching the victim inappropriately and rubbing himself against her. When she objected, he hit her on the head and in the face.

The same court records indicate that Gardner may have had another run-in with authorities the year before. In the fall of 1999, when only 19, Gardner also fondled a 14-year-old girl. The same documents record that incident as consensual.

When explaining why Gardner should not be granted probation for molesting and assaulting his victim, the District Attorney's Office described his actions as predatory, vicious and callous. Court documents show that a staff psychiatrist who interviewed Gardner took no responsibility for molesting the 13-year-old gilr and recommended sentencing him to 11 year in prison, the maximum sentence allowed by law. "It is my opinion that [the defendant would be a continued danger to underage [girls] in the community," Dr. Matthew Carroll wrote in a report. "It is unlikely the defendant would be amenable to treatment."

Gardner ultimately received six years in prison and was fined $600. Now in jail for King's disappearance, authorities are looking at him in connection with other disappearances and attacks in San Diego County.

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