State Cover Up in Dugard Case?

by CalWatchdog Staff | July 2, 2010 1:44 pm

Katy Grimes: Kidnapped by a sex offender on parole in 1991, eleven-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard was held prisoner by Philip Garrido for 18 years. Forced to live most of those years in a shed in the yard, Dugard gave birth to two children fathered by Garrido, whom according to records, raped and assaulted her during the captivity.

Last fall, the state of California determined that authorities at the department of corrections failed to properly supervise and monitor Phillip Garrido, who was on parole for rape.

Yesterday the California legislature voted overwhelmingly to award Dugard and her family $20 million in order to bypass the court system and a potentially long, drawn-out process. The settlement was determined by the state attorney’s, who warned that if it went to a jury, the settlement would be “extremely high.”

Was the state really trying to avoid having the details of the sorted, bungled case splashed all over the news 24/7?

Dugard and her family filed a claim against the Department of Corrections last February, accusing the agency of “various lapses.” Claiming to have suffered “psychological, physical and emotional injury,” Dugard claimed she was held as a sex slave for eighteen years while Garrido was on parole. Dugard said if the corrections department had done its job correctly, she and her children (by Garrido) would have been discovered sooner.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido have been charged with 29 criminal counts in connection with the case but have pleaded not guilty. Both Garridos are currently in jail.

Both the state Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly approved the settlement – the Assembly passed the bill 70-2, and the Senate voted 30-1 in favor of the bill.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s office said that he planned to sign the bill.

The one Senate “no” vote came from Senator Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley. Aanestad said in a radio interview that he never votes for settlement agreements of taxpayer money. “Settlements involve large amounts of taxpayer money that the State Legislature has absolutely no control over. These agreements are often negotiated by government lawyers and judges – who are not looking out for the best interests of California taxpayers,” said Aanestad in a press release.

Two Assembly members also voted no: Reps. Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, and Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield. Anderson was quoted questioning the decision to protect the bureaucracy and not the victim, and stated that the case should have been heard in court.

The Contra Costa Times reported, “The state Attorney General’s Office, which negotiated the settlement, released a statement Thursday “from both parties.” The $20 million, it read, “will help them reunite with their family and obtain the services and treatment that they need to overcome their ordeal, in an environment that is free from unwanted press scrutiny. Terry Thornton, a state corrections spokeswoman, said the settlement bars the agency from talking about it.”

Is there a cover up taking place? Why not let this story get to court so that the details could see the light of day?

The Times reports “Garrido had served 11 years of a 50-year federal sentence in the 1976 kidnapping of a South Lake Tahoe woman he raped in Reno. He was under federal supervision when authorities say he and Nancy Garrido kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee from her South Lake Tahoe street in 1991 and spirited her back to the house near Antioch. Federal authorities discharged him in 1999; he then fell under California’s watch in an agreement with Nevada, which had sentenced him to lifetime parole for the rape.”

The government lawyers and judges referred to by Aanestad who negotiated the deal, work for the same employer as the corrections department, which neglected to properly monitor Garrido during his time on parole. Appearing to be a cover up by the state, it’s hard not to question the veracity of the deal.

The question is not about how deserving Dugard is; the question should be about accountability – the corrections department’s accountability to Dugard, the accountability of the state corrections agents who failed to do their jobs, and accountability by the Attorney General’s office to taxpayers, which together with the judge, negotiated a secret deal with the Dugard family, bypassing the court system altogether.

Dugard suffered at the hands of two monsters. The monsters should be put on trial along with the derelict parole agents in order for any real justice to be done.  Buying off a woman who has already been victimized for the past 18 years is not justice.

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