Published September 22, 2011
Jaycee Dugard sued the federal government Thursday for failing to monitor the convicted sex offender who kidnapped her and held her captive for 18 years.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco said the mistakes by federal parole officers in the handling of Phillip Garrido's case are as "outrageous and inexcusable as they are numerous."
Had federal parole officers done their jobs, Dugard's lawyers allege, Dugard and her daughters would not have had to endure their years of captivity in a ramshackle compound tucked inside Garrido's Antioch backyard.
Garrido, who was convicted in 1977 of raping and kidnapping a 25-year-old woman, was on parole and under federal supervision when he kidnapped Dugard in 1991. He fathered Dugard's two children while he and his wife, Nancy, held her captive. The pair was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping and rape charges in the case.
The complaint alleges that the federal government's negligence allowed Garrido to be free to kidnap Dugard. The complaint said federal authorities were aware he was still dangerous yet failed to revoke his parole and send him back to prison.
Charles Miller, a spokesman at the U.S. Department of Justice, said government attorneys will review the complaint once they are served, and "make a determination about how we will ultimately respond in court."
Dugard's lawyers list a number of incidences in the complaint of alleged misconduct by federal authorities from failing to get Garrido proper mental health treatment to not providing adequate information to state authorities when he was transferred to their charge. They also say authorities neglected to take steps to ensure Garrido wouldn't commit another crime.
It says Garrido tested positive for drugs and alcohol while on parole, a violation for a sex offender, but was never punished. It also says authorities ignored reports of sexual misconduct, including a complaint that Garrido showed up at his former victim's work and made an "alarming" comment to her.
"Inexplicably, the federal parole authorities responsible for Garrido's direct supervision disregarded the victim's concerns as mere hysteria," the documents say.
After the incident, Garrido's counselor recommended electronic monitoring, but his parole officer disregarded it as "too much of a hassle," according to the complaint.
The documents also allege federal parole officers did not follow up on a sexual harassment complaint by one of Garrido's co-workers.
"With this type of resume, it is hard to imagine that Garrido, a parolee classified as `High Activity' supervision, would have received anything other than the utmost scrutiny and supervision by federal parole authorities," the complaint says. "Garrido, however, received nothing of the sort."
The documents say authorities went several months without checking on him and visited his residence less than a dozen times in the 10 years they supervised him.
"Had federal parole authorities demonstrated a modicum of vigilance ... Jaycee and her daughters would not have been forced to endure a virtual lifetime of physical and mental abuse," the lawyers said.
Dugard is seeking unspecified damages from the federal complaint that she says she will donate to her nonprofit organization to help other victims.
She and her daughters already have received a $20 million settlement, less legal fees and expenses, from the state of California for the failings of its law enforcement. The state took over Garrido's parole supervision in 1999.
Dugard, who was kidnapped when she was 11 years old, was reunited with her family in August 2009.