Jaycee Dugard's grand jury testimony provides personal account of kidnapping, rape and captors
At times, the voice is young and terrified -– an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped during the last week of school , raped for years and kept in line under threat of pain.
At times, the voice is brave and resilient -- a mother protecting her vulnerable daughters, struggling to give them a normal life under the most horrific of circumstances.
Always, the voice is Jaycee Lee Dugard’s, and the public got a real sense of it for the first time on Thursday. That’s when El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas C. Phimister unsealed the transcript from a secret grand jury hearing that led to the 2010 indictment of Phillip and Nancy Garrido, who abducted Dugard 20 years ago.
The Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee and several other media outlets intervened in the case, seeking to have the transcripts unsealed. Attorney Karl Olson argued on behalf of the media that the right to privacy does not justify continued secrecy on behalf of a rape victim whose name was made public by law enforcement officials and whose memoir of her ordeal is scheduled to hit bookstores in July.
Dugard’s family, the El Dorado County district attorney and lawyers for the Garridos vehemently disagreed. Phimister was only partly supportive, keeping more than 20% of the transcript under seal, calling the segments in which Dugard’s sexual attacks were described as “disgusting” and “inappropriate,” material that “would qualify as pornography.”
“The specific description of the events that occurred would shock adults,” he said in court Thursday, “even adults who have a distorted view of intimacy.”
Phimister decried the media for “asking the court to assist in the exploitation of this child,” and declared that he would not do so. “There is a right to privacy,” he said. “What happened to this child is disgusting.”
The 123 pages that were unsealed paint a terrifying portrait of a sick man who kidnapped a little girl to satisfy his sexual perversions. Who intimidated his wife into taking part in the abduction and condoning the rapes that led to the birth of Dugard’s two daughters. Who eventually wanted them all to be one big happy family. Who thought he was doing nothing wrong.
“Phillip wanted us to be a family,” Dugard testified. “He was our dad, and Nancy was their mom. You know, that’s what we did…to give the kids, you know, normal as possible” a life.
On June 10, 1991, the Garridos were driving in South Lake Tahoe, when they spied Dugard, pretty in pink, heading for the school bus. She was 11 and had just yelled good bye to her stepfather, who was in their garage. It was about 7 a.m.
The Garridos' car “creeped up” behind the little girl. A voice called out, asking for directions. “And then,” Dugard testified, “his hand shoots out and I feel tingly and like losing control, and I’m in the bushes, trying to go back, and somebody is dragging me.”
Garrido, who was driving, had tased Dugard, and Nancy dragged her into the car and covered her up with blankets. They had planned, Phimister said in court Thursday, to go on a “shopping trip for a victim.”
The Garridos took Dugard back to the ramshackle warren of tents and sheds they had constructed behind their house in Antioch, an East Bay suburb. Garrido raped her on arrival.
“I was very scared,” Dugard testified about that first day. “I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know why he was doing this. I just wanted to go home. I think in the bathroom I kept telling him that, you know, ‘I don’t know why you’re doing this.
“‘If you’re holding me for ransom, my family doesn’t have a lot of money,’” she continued. “I didn’t know – I didn’t know his purpose. I’ve heard about kidnapping before. They were usually for money.”
The Garridos gave her Barbie dolls during her first birthday in captivity. Garrido gave her a cat to keep her company when she complained about loneliness and then took it away because it messed up the small space where he kept Dugard prisoner.
For the first three years, until the birth of her first daughter in August 1994, Garrido would force himself on Dugard once a week or more. After the birth of the child, the frequency of the rapes slowed. Nancy, who would bring Dugard food, sometimes offered to have sex with her husband instead. She would say, “Oh, I’ll take this run for you.”
After the first birth, Dugard testified, “things really changed. He said that he was eventually going to stop having sex with me and that, you, know, he’s just really trying to change and he wants us all to be a family.”
The last time Garrido raped Dugard was the day her second daughter was conceived. The girl was born in November 1997.
The Garridos let Dugard pick a name. She chose Alissa. The “family” began to celebrate the little girls’ birthdays together. A swing set was installed in the compound. Dugard told the grand jury that she did what she could to give her children a normal life.
But there wasn’t much that she could do. She couldn’t leave. At first because she was terrified -- Garrido kept a Taser around as a threat – and then because she had no place to go.
“We went places later as a family, but never by myself,” Dugard testified. “And I wanted him to teach me how to drive and stuff. And that never came. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t leave. I had the girls. I didn’t know where to go, what I would do for money or anything.
“I didn’t have anything.”
-- Maria L. La Ganga in Placerville, Calif.
Photo: Phillip Garrido is led into El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville. Credit: Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/MCT