Unless there is a money settlement in the next four months, San Francisco’s Northern District federal court will face a bizarre, tragic and embarrassing trial. A young woman who spent 18 years as the captive and sex slave of a “deranged” ex-felon Phillip Garrido and bore his two daughters as a result of those assaults, will take her claims of negligence by U.S. Parole officers to trial.
Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at the age of 11 as she headed for school from her South Lake Tahoe home by Garrido on June 10, 1991. Garrido was on federal parole from a rape conviction in Nevada after serving just 11 years of a 50-year sentence, according to court papers.
She has sued on her own behalf and that of her two daughters claiming negligent supervision and failure to provide Garrido’s records to California state parole officials who took over supervision in 1999.
The government counters that its agents are immune from suit for exercising their discretionary duties, including the frequency of supervisory visits.
Federal parole and probation services are an arm of the U.S. judiciary and considered the “eyes and ears” of the federal courts, according to the Judiciary website. As a result, no Northern District judges, or local federal lawyers are participating in the case. Instead, Judge Carlos Bea of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been assigned to preside. The government’s defense lawyers are all from Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, Judge Bea set a new trial date of December 16, 2013. It will be a non-jury, judge trial.
The lawsuit alleges that despite mandatory rules for reporting a parolee’s drug use violations and required monthly visits for high-risk parolees, officers “routinely went months at a time without seeing Garrido,” court papers state. They “even failed to make a single visit to Garrido’s home during at least three of the 10 years he was under federal parole supervision.”
Garrido was to have been arrested and charged with two rapes in 1972 and 1974 but avoided conviction. In 1976, after he abducted a woman and held her in a Reno storage locked equipped as a “sex palace” where she was assaulted for six hours, he was finally convicted of rape. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison but after a 35 minute jailhouse interview in 1987, without the federal prosecutor or defense lawyer, he was given parole.
Just three years after federal agents took over his parole monitoring, he snatched Dugard and spirited her away from Tahoe to Antioch where he lived with his wife and mother.
He built a catacomb of tents and sheds in his backyard, including a soundproof room where Dugard was held.
For 18 years he kept the young woman, who gave birth to daughters without medical care when she was just 14-year-old and 17-years-old.
Although Garrido gave one federal parole agent a tour of the bizarre compound one month before Dugard was kidnapped, the agent never went back to inspect it again, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint details a litany of alleged failed opportunities by federal parole agents and federal prison officials to hold Garrido to account for parole violations, suspicious behavior and failures to live up to their alleged obligation to inspect his home and make monthly home visits.
Federal agents turned over control of his supervision after 10 years to state parole agents, but according to the suit, failed to pass on their report that characterized him as “a time bomb” and “potentially very volatile” and “substantial risk to women” or that they had found him in violation of drug and alcohol restrictions.
Shortly after Garrido’s parole in 1988 he allegedly contacted his former rape victim from 1976 and spoke to her at her workplace. Although she reported it to his parole officer, her concern was “disregarded” as “hysteria.”
Over the years probation officers, therapists and counselors described him as a “pot boiling with no outlet valve,” and “there is always threat of repeat[kidnap/rape].”
Multiple accounts show he abused methamphetamine during parole drug tests, but officers failed to report the violations to the Parole Commission, as mandated, the suit states.
Although the parole agent knew the extent of the warren of sheds and a soundproof room on the property just one month before Dugard’s kidnap, the area was never searched again.
“High activity” supervision mandates monthly face-to-face visits with a parolee, according to the suit. But officers routinely went months without seeing Garrido and failed to make a single visit from in 1990, 1992 and 1994, according to the suit.
“Garrido would not have been granted early parole and would not have been free to kidnap Jaycee in 1991 or otherwise cause injury” if parole agents and prison officials had followed their mandatory obligations, the suit concludes.
Earlier this month, the government asked Bea to dismiss the suit saying the parole agents and prison officials hold absolute judicial immunity for the way they supervise parolees. In addition, they argue Dugard’s lawsuit is too late. Her parents should have known at least by her 1991 kidnap of sufficient facts to file a claim. And they failed to pursue administrative remedies with the Bureau of Prisons.
Case: Dugard v. USA, No. 11-cv-4718CTB