Sex Offender Escaped Notice During Girl's Captivity

Phillip Garrido i i

hide captionPhillip Garrido, a convicted sex offender, and his wife, Nancy, were arrested and charged with 29 counts connected to the 1991 kidnapping, rape and imprisonment of Jaycee Lee Dugard. They have pleaded not guilty.

AP/California Attorney General
Phillip Garrido

Phillip Garrido, a convicted sex offender, and his wife, Nancy, were arrested and charged with 29 counts connected to the 1991 kidnapping, rape and imprisonment of Jaycee Lee Dugard. They have pleaded not guilty.

AP/California Attorney General

It's been a little more than a month since kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard and her two daughters were recovered from a squalid backyard compound in Northern California.

Dugard was 11 years old when she was abducted in 1991 near her home in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Authorities say she was held captive for almost two decades by a registered sex offender. Investigators are still piecing together the whole story, as Dugard and her family try to recover some sense of a normal life away from the media's spotlight.

But speculation about Dugard's 18 years in captivity seems endless. During those years, she bore the two girls. The man accused of kidnapping and raping her, Phillip Garrido, is alleged to be the father.

Dugard's family has kept Jaycee and her daughters at an undisclosed location, away from reporters and photographers. McGregor Scott, a former federal prosecutor who agreed to represent Dugard's family, reports that Dugard and her daughters are doing well.

"I was very pleasantly surprised, candidly, when I met with them for the first time, to see how well they seemed to be doing," Scott says. "And even more encouraging was the second time I met with them. I saw progress — just in terms of their personalities, their self-confidence, all the things we hope to see going forward. So it was just very encouraging to see that."

Scott says Dugard is dealing with conflicting emotions after allegedly spending more than half of her life under Garrido's control. Still, "there is no question that she knows that terrible and wrong things were done to her," he says. "And that the people who did those things must be held accountable by the authorities. And, therefore, she is cooperating fully with law enforcement in their investigation."

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, face 29 counts of kidnapping and rape. Scott says if they are tried, Dugard plans to testify. It may not come to that, however, if a judge finds Garrido mentally incompetent to stand trial.

How Did Garrido Slip Through The Cracks?

It could take a trial to unearth some of the mysteries surrounding Garrido, such as why he served only 11 years of a 50-year term for an unrelated kidnapping and rape case in Nevada in 1977.

Garrido was released from prison in 1988. Three years later, he allegedly kidnapped Dugard. In 1999, while authorities say he was secretly holding Dugard and her children captive, he was released from federal parole. Upon his discharge, Garrido even received a certificate from the U.S. Parole Commission commending his good behavior.

That same year, Garrido registered as a sex offender in his hometown, Antioch, Calif., where he's accused of holding Dugard and her daughters in his backyard.

"At that time, as far as we know, he was living at that address on Walnut Avenue," says Jimmy Lee, spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department. "As a registered sex offender, you know, he registered every year. We've never had any issues with him and he's been compliant. We can't account for where he was before that. He came to our attention in 1999."

It appears that between 1991 and 1999, while Garrido was under federal parole supervision, California state and local authorities did not know he was living in Antioch. His initial 1999 registration as a sex offender came at least eight years after he was required to register.

Scott says there are many unanswered questions about why federal, state and local law enforcement officials lost track of Garrido's activities.

"I devoted nearly two decades of my life to law enforcement in this state, and we failed," he says. "We failed Jaycee Dugard and her family."

A fuller account of Garrido's history is buried in federal and state penal records. The U.S. Parole Commission has released some, but not all, documents that might shed light on what federal authorities knew about Garrido. Meanwhile, state officials are conducting an investigation into how they handled Garrido's supervision.

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