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State board told to reject claim by parents of San Diego teen slain by paroled sex offender

A board that considers compensation for California crime victims was told Monday it should reject claims filed by the parents of a San Diego teenager killed by a paroled sex offender.

The anticipated rejection of the legal actions involving the death of 14-year-old Amber Dubois would clear the way for her parents to file a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Maurice Dubois and Carrie McGonigle are each seeking an unspecified amount exceeding $25,000 in their claims.

They say sex offender John Gardner III violated his parole at least five times after serving a sentence for molesting a girl in 2000, yet parole officials did not send him back to prison.

"Had he been returned to prison, he would have been evaluated for commitment to a state mental hospital as a sexually violent predator," according to the claims.

Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the corrections department, said she could not comment on a pending legal action.

Gardner has pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Amber Dubois in February 2009. He also admitted raping and killing 17-year-old Chelsea King. Her parents have not filed a claim against the state.

Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board spokeswoman Lynn Margherita said staff members of the panel said the claims would be better handled with a civil lawsuit in Superior Court.

The claims should be denied because the issues are more complicated than usually considered by the board, Margherita said. For instance, the board doesn't take testimony from witnesses or accept evidence, as a judge and jury would.

The board is expected to consider the claims at its Aug. 19 meeting.

Attorney Robin Sax, who represents the parents, said they have not decided whether to sue.

"We're considering all viable options at this point," Sax said.

Sax said she has been closely following a claim by Jaycee Dugard. Paroled rapist Phillip Garrido is charged with kidnapping Dugard as a young girl and holding her captive in Northern California for 18 years.

The state Legislature approved a $20 million settlement July 1 with Dugard and the two daughters she bore her suspected kidnapper.

Sax said she has had no settlement discussions with the department or other state officials.

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