Outrage would be an understandable reaction from California taxpayers. They have to fork over $20 million because state parole officials allowed Jaycee Lee Dugard to suffer unspeakably.
It's just as outrageous that the settlement means we'll probably never know how things went so wrong, who specifically is to blame and whether they have been held to account. There are few assurances that a similar nightmare won't happen again.
A letter released Wednesday by the state attorney general's office provides a hint of what may remain hidden.
The June 25 letter, which attempts to justify the $20 million payout approved last week by the Legislature, recounts an allegation that parole agents saw and spoke to Dugard and her elder daughter while they were under the control of paroled rapist Phillip Garrido, who kept them confined in a backyard shed in Antioch. Somehow, the agents failed to follow up — to determine if they were being held against their will, to look for the shed, to check Garrido's file. That was only one of a series of blunders — documented in an inspector general's report and in records released under a lawsuit filed by The Bee — that Dugard would likely have proven in court.
We don't begrudge the money that Dugard, now 30, and her daughters, ages 12 and 15, will receive to pay for counseling, medical care and education, and to otherwise rebuild their lives. The state failed to protect them from an evil criminal.
Dugard was abducted near her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991 when she was 11. Garrido had been under California parole supervision since 1999, but it wasn't until last August that he was arrested and Dugard reunited with her family. By then, she had been repeatedly raped and abused, and had given birth to two girls fathered by Garrido. He and his wife, Nancy Garrido, are awaiting trial on kidnapping and rape charges that could put both behind bars for life.
By settling out of court, the state almost certainly saved quite a bit of money.
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