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Sex Offender Escaped Notice During Girl's Captivity

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Sex Offender Escaped Notice During Girl's Captivity

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Sex Offender Escaped Notice During Girl's Captivity

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It's been 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. 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 are trying to recover some sense of a normal life away from the media spotlight.

NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

RICHARD GONZALES: There's hardly an end to the speculation about Jaycee Dugard's 18 years in captivity. During those years, she bore the two daughters by her alleged kidnapper and rapist, Phillip Garrido.

Dugard's family has kept Jaycee and her daughters at an undisclosed location, away from reporters and photographers. McGregor Scott is a former federal prosecutor. He agreed to represent Dugard's family and he gave this report on their condition.

Mr. MCGREGOR SCOTT (Former Federal Prosecutor): I was very pleasantly surprised, candidly, when I met with them for the first time to see how well they seemed to be doing. And even more encouraging was that the second time I met with them I saw progress, and just in terms of the development of their personalities, their self-confidence, all the things that we hope to see going forward. So it was just very encouraging to see that.

GONZALES: Scott says Dugard is dealing with conflicting emotions after having spent half of her life under the control of Phillip Garrido.

Mr. SCOTT: On the other side, there's no question that she knows that terrible and wrong things were done to her 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.

GONZALES: Garrido and his wife, Nancy, face 29 counts of kidnap and rape. Scott says if they are tried, Dugard plans to testify. That's an if because a judge could find Garrido mentally incompetent to stand trial.

It could take a trial to unearth some of the mysteries surrounding Garrido, such as why did he serve only 11 years of a 50-year term for an unrelated kidnap and rape case in Nevada in 1977. Garrido was released from prison in 1988. Three years later, he kidnapped Jaycee Dugard.

During the same time Garrido held her captive and fathered her two children, he was released from federal parole. In fact, upon his discharge, Garrido received a certificate from the U.S. Parole Commission commending his good behavior. That was in 1999. It was the same year Garrido finally registered as a sex offender in his hometown, Antioch, California, where he kept Dugard and her daughters captive in his backyard.

Jimmy Lee is spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department.

Mr. JIMMY LEE (Spokesman, Contra Costa County Sheriff Department): At that time, as far as we know, he was living at that Antioch address on Walnut Avenue. As a registered sex offender, 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.

GONZALES: But by then, it seems, Garrido was very good at exploiting cracks in the system. 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. After all, he registered as a sex offender at least eight years after he was required to do so.

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

Mr. SCOTT: I devoted almost two decades of my life to law enforcement in this state, and we failed. We failed Jaycee Dugard and her family.

GONZALES: 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.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News, San Francisco.

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