On August 24, 2009, a registered sex offender named Phillip Garrido entered the University of California in Berkeley with two young girls. He spoke to campus police official Lisa Campbell about hosting an event for his group, “God’s Desire.” Campbell found the trio’s behavior to be highly unusual, and told Garrido to come back the following day.
That night, Campbell asked police officer Ally Jacobs to join her for the meeting. Jacobs ran a background check on Garrido, and discovered that he was still on parole for kidnapping and raping a woman in 1976. She quickly agreed to attend.
Phillip Garrido returned on August 25 with the two girls. Both Campbell and Jacobs felt their behavior was abnormal. Jacobs described the encounter to Garrido’s parole officer, who decided to bring Garrido in for questioning. He was allowed to leave a few hours later, but told to return the following morning.
Garrido brought his wife Nancy, a young woman he called “Alyssa” and two young girls to this meeting. The girls raised red flags when they referred to Garrido as “daddy.” Phillip Garrido has no children. After a lengthy interrogation, the truth finally emerged. The young woman was Jaycee Dugard; she had been kidnapped from her Lake Tahoe home in 1991.
Jaycee Dugard was allegedly abducted by the Garrido’s and held hostage in their backyard for 18 years. She lived in a tent and was denied every form of personal freedom. Dugard was repeatedly raped while in captivity. The two young girls belonged to her. Phillip Garrido is their father.
After nearly 2 decades, Jaycee Dugard was finally free to reunite with her family. Her mother was stunned to learn that she has two granddaughters. Since then, they all live together in an undisclosed California city.
In October, 2009, Jaycee agreed to an interview with People magazine, and later released a short video to ABC News. The video shows Jaycee laughing, horseback riding and baking cookies with her family. Dugard also released a statement to thank people for their support and said “It’s been a long haul, but I’m getting there.”
Terry Probyn, Dugard’s mother, hopes Jaycee will be left alone. She requests privacy for the family, and admonishes that they need time to heal. Her request was recently ignored when an unknown photographer snapped several pictures of Jaycee with her daughters. Dugard’s spokesperson Nancy Seltzer said she feels shame for the photographer, and added that that Jaycee “isn’t a public figure by her own choice — nor are her daughters. They should have the opportunity to lead as normal a life as possible without being treated as a curiosity by onlookers and their cameras.”
The story of Jaycee Dugard brought serious criticism to the Contra Costa County Sherriff’s Office. Parole officers visited Garrido’s home on several occasions, and even saw Dugard on the premises. No one, however, questioned the presence of a young woman in the home of a known sex offender.
Sheriff Warren Rupf apologized on behalf of his department and stated that he would retire after 18 years of service. Rupf admitted that his agency had “blown its best chance to find her.” The only bright side is that this situation caused the department to reevaluate important procedures. They created several new policies that are intended to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
Chief among these policies is a simple, but imperative declaration. Look in the backyard.
The clampdown appears to be working. Officers recently rescued a 14-year-old girl who was being held by a known sex offender. Registered offenders who wear GPS devices now receive more stringent monitoring. Parolees are no longer allowed to get away with going beyond their approved range or staying out past their curfew.
Following their arrest, Phillip and Nancy Garrido were charged with kidnapping and rape. They are currently locked up and forbidden from seeing each other. Both remain committed to a “not guilty” plea.
Phillip Garrido’s mental competency has been questioned. Whether or not he is mentally competent to stand trial is uncertain. A preliminary hearing for the Garridos could be delayed if a judge decides that Phillip requires a psychological exam.
$20 Million Apology
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently approved and signed a $20 million settlement for Jaycee Dugard. The money is intended to provide reparations for her family, and for the perceived incompetence of parole officers who monitored Phillip Garrido.
An official memo about the settlement admitted that the case has a “unique and tragic character.” It went on to say that no amount could make up for what Dugard and her daughters were forced to endure, but the money could help them “rebuild their lives.” The memo also estimated that the Dugard family would likely need up to $7 million just for counseling services in the coming years.
Dugard’s case has helped initiate policies to pro prevent sex offenders from harming new victims. State officials are eager to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
The police will be far stricter when dealing with offenders, and parents can also help keep their families safe. Adults may run Sex Offender Searches to learn about registered offenders living in any city or zip code. The search provides a report that contains the name of each offender and details about their crimes. It can be used to educate families with useful information about offenders who live near any home, school or other location.
We applaud Jaycee Dugard and the bravery her entire family has shown. She is moving forward with her life; working hard to earn her GED and obtaining a driver’s license. With time, love and support, Jaycee Dugard is going to be okay.
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Tags: Ally Jacobs, Alyssa, Contra Costa County Sherriff’s Office, Garrido’s Parole Officer, Jaycee Dugard, Lisa Campbell, Nancy Garrido, Nancy Seltzer, Phillip Garrido, Sex Offender, Sheriff Warren Rupf, Terry Probyn