Jaycee Dugard sued the federal government Thursday for failing to monitor the convicted sex offender who grabbed her off a Northern California street as a child and held her for 18 years.
Dugard’s attorney Dale Kinsella said in a statement: “We believe that the years of abuse experienced by Ms. Dugard are a direct result of the U.S. Parole Commission's colossal blunders” handling the case of Phillip Garrido.
Even if Kinsella is right, it’s unclear whether Dugard can win this case.
The complaint, filed in a San Francisco U.S. District Court, has a sturdy claim.
Just three years before Dugard was kidnapped, Garrido was released early from prison after being convicted of kidnapping and forcible rape. Parole officers who should have been monitoring Garrido while he was on parole didn’t report him for testing positive multiple times for drug and alcohol abuse. Federal authorities also ignored repeated reports of sexual misconduct by Garrido, visited his home only a dozen times in a decade, and never found Dugard captive in the backyard.
Now, the California inspector general has also confirmed that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to adequately supervise Garrido. For the last ten years, however, Garrido was the federal government’s responsibility.
But it’s always been difficult to win a case against the federal government.
Dugard's family has also already received a $20 million settlement in 2009 through a state victims' compensation fund, though the U.S. government has twice rejected Dugard’s attempts to reach a settlement through private mediation.
Charles Miller, a spokesman at the U.S. Department of Justice, told the AP that government attorneys will review the complaint and “make a determination about how we will ultimately respond in court.”
Dugard says she would give any compensation she receives from the case to charity.
While the horrific details and length of Dugard’s kidnapping have no real precedent, a 2008 Supreme Court case Kennedy v. Louisiana dealt a blow to victims of child rape, ruling that child rapists could no longer get the death penalty.
Dugard was 11 when Garrido and his wife, Nancy, kidnapped her and put her in a shed, where she was raped hundreds of times and gave birth to two daughters.