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Jaycee Dugard sues U.S. for 'gross neglect' in supervising Garrido's parole

September 22, 2011 |  2:15 pm

Jaycee Dugard, right, talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer her first interview after being freed. 
Kidnap and rape victim Jaycee Lee Dugard sued the U.S. government Thursday, alleging that slipshod federal supervision of convicted rapist Phillip Garrido allowed him to remain free, snatch Dugard while she walked to the school bus and hold her as a “sex slave” for 18 years.

So lacking was the government’s oversight, according to the complaint, that its "gross neglect borders on virtual complicity" with Garrido, who pleaded guilty in April to charges that he raped and kidnapped Dugard. He was sentenced to 431 years to life in prison.

"Had federal parole authorities demonstrated a modicum of vigilance -– indeed, had they simply performed their duties and obligations as required by federal law and internal policies," the complaint said, "Jaycee and her daughters would not have been forced to endure a virtual lifetime of physical and mental abuse from a detonated ‘time bomb.' "

Dugard attorney Dale Kinsella said in a written statement that federal parole agents "failed on numerous occasions" from December 1988 to March 1999 to properly monitor Garrido, a convicted sex offender and that "the years of abuse experienced by Ms. Dugard are a direct result of the U.S. Parole Commission’s colossal blunders."

Charles Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said that the government would not comment. "Once our attorneys have had a chance to review the complaint, we will make a determination at that time how we will respond in court," Miller said in a telephone interview.

Dugard was 11 when Garrido and his wife, Nancy, shocked her with a stun gun as she walked along her South Lake Tahoe street, dragged her into their car and drove her to Antioch. She was held in a ramshackle warren of tents and sheds, raped hundreds of times and gave birth to two daughters.

Garrido was the father; Nancy, who also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison, was the midwife.

According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Dugard and her teenage daughters Thursday morning in federal court in San Francisco, Garrido "should have been in federal prison in 1991," when he kidnapped Dugard, who is now 31.

Garrido had been convicted in 1977 on state and federal charges of kidnapping and raping another woman and was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. He served less than 11. While on parole, the complaint contends, he repeatedly violated the conditions, testing positive multiple times for drug and alcohol use.

"One such test," the complaint said, "showed that Garrido’s blood alcohol level was 0.45% -- a reading typically associated with unconsciousness and possible death….

"Despite the U.S. Parole Commission’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding drug use for parolees and despite the violations of Garrido’s special conditions of parole," the complaint said, "Garrido’s parole officers did not report Garrido’s illegal drug use or alcohol use to the Parole Commission as required by law."

In addition, federal authorities ignored repeated reports of sexual misconduct by Garrido, went months without seeing him at all and "failed to make a single visit to Garrido’s home during at least three of the 10 years he was under federal parole supervision." They only visited his home a dozen times in a decade, the suit said. And they never found Jaycee, who was captive in the backyard.

The federal suit asks for unspecified damages. 

In 1999, California authorities became responsible for supervising Garrido. A year ago, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a $20-million state settlement for Dugard and her daughters. The award was recommended by the state Department of Justice, which said in a report that state parole agents had spoken with Dugard and her elder daughter while they were in captivity.

In a written statement, family spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer said that U.S. officials had "summarily rejected" two requests by Dugard for private mediation and that "100% of whatever money she recovers" will be donated to her private foundation.

The JAYC Foundation provides support and services "for the timely treatment of families recovering from abduction and the aftermath of traumatic experiences," the statement said.  "The foundation uses amongst other resources, animal assisted therapy and has indeed already provided its first reunification therapeutic services for a mother and her daughter who was recently returned home after having been abducted."


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Photo: Jaycee Dugard, right, talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer in her first interview after being freed. Credit: Jill Belsley / Reuters