SAN FRANCISCO—The federal government cannot be held responsible for kidnapping survivor Jaycee Dugard’s 1991 abduction and subsequent 18 years in captivity, an appeals court said Tuesday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Dugard’s lawsuit alleging federal parole officials should have revoked her abductor’s parole well before he kidnapped her, but failed to do their jobs.
Phillip Garrido was on parole following his conviction on kidnapping and forcible rape charges when he and his wife Nancy abducted 11-year-old Jaycee from a California street and kept her captive in a backyard compound. Garrido repeatedly raped her over years and fathered two daughters with her.
The appeals court said in a 2-1 decision that Dugard had not been victimized by Garrido at the time he was placed under federal parole supervision, and there was no way to anticipate she would become his victim. As a result, federal authorities in California had no duty to protect her or other members of the general public from him, the court said. The decision upheld a lower court ruling.
A message for Dugard’s attorney, Dale Kinsella, was not immediately returned.
Dugard alleged in her lawsuit against the federal government that parole officials should have returned Garrido to prison for any number of parole violations that preceded her abduction, including testing positive for drugs and alcohol.
In a dissenting opinion, Chief District Court Judge William Smith said the majority had improperly analyzed Dugard’s case, and there was good reason to hold the government liable.
Dugard was identified and rescued in 2009 after Garrido took her and the girls to a meeting with his parole officer.
Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years to life for kidnapping and rape. His wife Nancy was sentenced to 36 years to life.
Dugard and her children have received a $20 million settlement from the state of California.