Dugard, family file claims against Calif officials
February 26, 2010
ANTIOCH, Calif. – Jaycee Dugard and her family have taken the first step to sue the state of California for lapses officials made while she and her daughters were allegedly held captive by a convicted sex offender.
Dugard, her two daughters and her mother, Terry Probyn, have each filed claim forms against the Department of Corrections, Rachel Wall, a spokeswoman for the state’s Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, said Friday.
Dugard’s spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer, said the family members haven’t decided whether they’ll file a lawsuit.
“We are simply preserving Jaycee Dugard’s right to file a lawsuit at a later date, if that is something she decides is in her family’s best interest,” Seltzer said.
By law, victims have six months from the time of the incident to file a personal injury claim against the state. Dugard was found in August.
The forms do not ask for a specific dollar amount, only saying damages exceed $2 5,000.
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A messages left with the Santa Monica, Calif.-based attorney listed on the claims, Dale Kinsella, was not immediately returned.
Prosecutors say Dugard was kidnapped from outside her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido, then taken to Antioch, Calif., where she lived with two daughters fathered by Phillip Garrido in a ramshackle backyard compound.
Phillip Garrido had been under parole supervision because of a 1977 conviction for raping a 25-year-old woman. He was released from prison in 1988 and placed under federal supervision until 1999, when California took over.
According to an investigation by the Office of Inspector General, mistakes in how California monitored Garrido began right away. Among them, he was wrongly classified as a low-risk offender, which meant looser controls on him, and one agent did not try to confirm the identity of a young girl he saw at the house while on a visit, instead trusting Garrido’s claim t hat she was his niece.
The secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Matthew Cate, has acknowledged serious errors in the handling of the case.
The Garridos have been charged with raping and abducting Dugard. They have pleaded not guilty and have an appearance in El Dorado County Superior Court later Friday on defense motions to allow them to visit each other in jail.
Their lawyers also want contact information for Dugard and permission from the court to communicate with her. Prosecutors oppose the motion.