U.S. Appeals Court Throws Out Jaycee Dugard Lawsuit Claiming That Federal Parole System Failure Contributed To Her Abduction

A lawsuit was thrown out on Tuesday that alleged a federal parole failure was partly to blame for Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping in 1991. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government is not responsible for Dugard’s kidnapping despite Garrido’s early release in 1988 for another kidnapping because she was not a “specifically identifiable victim” at the time of his release. Dugard and her attorneys argued that if federal parole officials had held Garrido accountable for several parole violations before he kidnapped her, then the repeat offender likely wouldn’t have been on the streets to kidnap her in the first place.

The decision was split 2-1 when a U.S. appeals court decided to throw out the lawsuit against the federal government filed by Dugard in 2011. Jaycee Dugard was suing on grounds that the federal parole board did not do enough to ensure that her kidnapper, Philip Garrido, was following the guidelines of his parole prior to her abduction.

The lawsuit claimed that if parole officers had watched Garrido more carefully, they could have identified a handful of parole violations prior to her 1991 kidnapping, effectively taking him off the streets before Dugard was kidnapped. Chief District Court Judge William Smith was the dissenting opinion in the U.S. appeals court decision. He maintained that there was good reason to hold the federal government liable according to NBC News.

Philip Garrido was on federal parole after earning an early release in 1988. Garrido was convicted of kidnapping and raping another South Lake Tahoe woman in 1976. Dugard’s lawsuit claims that in the three years between Garrido’s release from prison and the day he abducted her as she walked to a school bus stop, Garrido broke enough of the rules of his parole that he should have been back in prison already. The rejected lawsuit claims that if federal parole officers had paid better attention to Garrido, they could have prevented her abduction entirely.

Jaycee Dugard was 11=years-old when she was abducted by Philip Garrido on her way to the bus stop on June 10, 1991. Jaycee was kept in a shed and a series of tents in Garrido’s back yard for the next 18 years. Garrido admitted to repeatedly raping Dugard over the years, fathering two children that she gave birth to while still held captive in his backyard.

Dugard and others have questioned how Garrido and his wife Nancy were able to keep her hostage in the California backyard for so long without anyone noticing or questioning the Garridos. Philip and Nancy were arrested in 2009 after law enforcement found Jaycee still held captive near Antioch, California. Law enforcement officials became suspicious when Philip Garrido appeared for a probation meeting with both girls in tow. Officers finally investigated the Garridos’ home including the backyard and found Jaycee, who had been missing for 18 years. Both Garridos ultimately pled guilty to Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping. Philip was sentenced to 431 years in prison while his wife Nancy was given 36 years to life.

Jaycee did sue the state of California for their responsibility in keeping tabs on Philip Garrido while he was on probation. Garrido’s probation was transferred from the federal level to the state of California in 1999. Dugard and her children were awarded $20 million in a settlement from California. Despite neighbor complaints and small probation infractions, probation officers never checked out Garrido’s backyard or discovered Jaycee Dugard living in it.

Since gaining her freedom again in 2009, Jaycee Dugard has written two books. A Stolen Life was published in 2011 and A Book Of Firsts will be released in July.

[Photo by Charles Sykes/AP Images]