The terrible news that San Diego high school student Chelsea King’s body had been found in the park where she disappeared came soon after the police announced they were holding John Albert Gardiner III, a registered sex offender, as a suspect in her disappearance. It seems that police may have their man as he is linked through DNA on Chelsea’s clothing, and has been identified by a young female survivor in another attack in the same park.

That survivor is 23 year old Candice Moncayo, and her story is telling:

Moncayo reports that the overweight Gardiner blitzed her while she was running on a jogging trail and threw her to the ground, She reported that she thought he was going to rape her. She decided to fight with him, and as he shook her by the shoulders violently, she elbowed him in the nose. This caused him to pause and she escaped – running away.

Some important ovservations that may be useful for those of us studying self defense:

  1. Her instinct that he was going to rape her is most likely correct, and he certainly might have killed her afterwords to keep from being identified. I’ll talk a little more about sociopathic attackers in a  bit. The important thing here is that our survival instincts are well honed after a million years of human history.
  2. She decided and told him that he’d have to kill her to rape her. She made a clear decision to fight back in any way she could and that most likely saved her.
  3. She didn’t attempt an armbar, or to get this guy in the guard. She whacked him in the nose with an elbow. She didn’t have to “kick his butt” or “win” her survival depended on one thing and one thing only – ESCAPE. She created an opening and got the hell out of Dodge. This wasn’t a fight – this was survival

Now, I am no psychologist, but Gardiner comes off as a sociopath. One who is without remorse and sees others as objects to get what he wishes. In an earlier conviction for molesting a child under 14, a psychologist argued for Gardiner to get a longer sentence because he showed no remorse. He served 4 years and his name went on a sex offender list.

Pardon me while I climb up on my stump here:

Sexual assaults, in my mind including molesting children, are violent offenses and need to be treated as such. There is a lot of debate about the recidivism rate for sex offenders with studies varying between 52%-88%. The problem is that the only thing you can study is the likelihood of sex offenders to get re-arrested. The other issue that there are different types of sex offenders which vary from violent rapists to flashers (yes flashing can get you put on a sex offender list in some places).

In the end, releasing violent sex offenders such as Gardiner with a slap on the wrist certainly isn’t serving public safety. When we lock people up longer for tax evasion or pot possession than for rape, what does that tell you about our country’s values?

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