Sex offender laws didn't protect Chelsea King

Crime, Law and JusticeLaws and LegislationSexual AssaultCrimeJohn Albert GardnerChelsea King

A sex offender who registered his addresses in compliance with Megan's Law is accused of murdering Poway High senior Chelsea King, bringing into question the effectiveness of recent laws meant to control convicted sex predators.

According to public records, Gardner was convicted of assaulting and molesting a girl in 2000. He was sentenced to six years in prison and served five before he was released in September 2005. He was on probation until 2008. Since then, he apparently registered his addresses with local authorities as required by California State Law, Penal Code 290, known popularly as Megan's Law.

Records show that less than two months ago convicted sex offender John Gardner moved from Escondido to his grandmother's home in Lake Elsinore. He registered with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department as required by law.

"John Gardner registered with Riverside County Sheriff's Department on January 7, 2010," said sheriff's Sgt. Joseph Borjas.

His current address is listed on Gelette Street in Lake Elsinore. In a phone interview, Sgt. Borjas said his department didn't think Gardner was a threat.

"When he moved from Escondido, if he had any issues, they would have passed that information to us," Borjas said .

Under Code 290, Gardner is required to register with the city or county every year for the rest of his life. Not doing so would be violation of the law.

Law enforcement officials say police make an effort to keep tabs on registered sex offenders. They make unscheduled house checks on offenders, called "290 stings", especially during events like Halloween.

FOX 5 News contacted the Escondido Police Department about how they conduct such checks, but officials refused to comment on this case.

In San Diego County there are 4,000 registered sex offenders. Police say they don't have the resources to check on all of them. Police recommend monitoring registered sex offenders living near you on the Megan's Law Web site.

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