Courts & Crime

Dugard case prosecutor wants to keep grand jury transcripts sealed

The prosecutor in the Jaycee Lee Dugard case has filed court papers opposing an effort by The Bee and other media groups to unseal grand jury transcripts that include the kidnap victim's testimony, saying the documents should remain sealed until a jury is sworn in for a trial.

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, in papers filed in advance of a hearing set for next Thursday, said unsealing the transcripts would expose Dugard to revelations of "extremely private and violent acts" committed by the defendants, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

Release of the transcripts would also "only provide the defense with more fodder" to claim that the Garridos cannot receive a fair trial, he wrote.

"The more publicity of the specific details of this case, the more likely it will be that the Defendants will seek a change of venue prior to trial," Pierson wrote.

Pierson argued that unsealing the transcripts would give the Garridos "another tool to manipulate the criminal justice system."

He noted that Dugard, referred to as "Jane Doe" in the documents, "testified to extremely private and violent sex acts" when she met in secret with the grand jury in September.

"If these transcripts are unsealed prior to trial, the details of the repeated rape of Jane Doe will be splashed all over the media," Pierson wrote. "Jane Doe does not deserve this disrespect."

The Garridos are charged with kidnapping Dugard in 1991 when she was 11 and holding her captive in the backyard of their Antioch-area home for 18 years.

Phillip Garrido is accused of sexually assaulting her repeatedly – including incidents that he allegedly videotaped – that resulted in her becoming pregnant when she was 13 and again at 16. She had two daughters while captive.

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