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State awards $20M settlement to Jaycee Dugard

July 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
California lawmakers have approved a $20 million settlement for Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped and held captive for 18 years by a convicted rapist. She says state corrections officials failed to monitor him properly and it took them years to realize she was being held in his back yard.In the legislative analysis of the settlement, Jaycee Dugard's attorneys made a claim against the state for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's failures, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The $20 million settlement to kidnap victim Dugard was clearly a move to head off a possibly more expensive damage award had a jury decided the payment.

According to the bill analysis, the Department of Justice recommended the amount because Dugard and her two daughters fathered by her accused kidnapper will require counseling for the rest of their lives.

"It's a real recognition and acknowledgement of what a terrible, terrible situation the family finds itself in and hopefully this will go towards the counseling, healthcare, education, everything that's going to be necessary, clearly for a lifetime, to try to mitigate the harm that was done," said state Assm. Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar).

Dugard was only 11 years old when she was snatched from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood. She was found alive nearly two decades later in the Bay Area.

The Department of Corrections came under fire for its poor supervision of Dugard's alleged kidnapper and rapist, Phillip Garrido.

He was a convicted sex offender, and parole agents missed several opportunities to find the backyard compound where Dugard was living.

State Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) voted against the settlement because a trial would have forced the Corrections Dept. to produce records on what went wrong.

"See, if they go to court, there's going to be subpoenas. And we're going to get to the bottom of it," said Anderson. "There's not going to be any hiding in the bureaucracy. I want to stop this for all future. I'm more interested in protecting children than the bureaucracy."

The Corrections Dept. wouldn't comment but says it has taken steps to make sure this doesn't happen again, including better property searches of sex offenders and GPS monitoring of all sex offenders on parole, regardless of risk.

Critics warn it's not enough.

"One of the misnomers with GPS tracking is that they're watching sex offenders 24 hours a day, and they're not. It's not real time," said Christine Ward, director of Crime Victims Action Alliance.

While Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has indicated he will sign the settlement, it could be a while until Dugard gets the money.

The California Department of Finance says checks cannot be cut as long as there is still a budget stalemate at the Capitol.


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