After a convicted rapist held Jayceee Dugard hostage for 18 years under the gaze of California state parole offices, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has approved a unique $20 million settlement to the young woman.
Prosecutors charge that Phillip Garrido kidnapped Jaycee Dugard when she was 11 years old, and then trapped her in his backyard shed for 18 years. Dugard says she was held as a sex slave, and repeatedly raped by her captor. Dugard and her two daughters--fathered by Garrido--sued the state's prison system for negligence, saying parole officers missed multiple opportunities to discover them.
State parole agents ignored cables running to the backyard shed, and took the ex-con at his word when he said a 12-year-old girl spotted in his home was his brother's daughter, the inspector general of the state prison system wrote in a damning report last November. Garrido and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping and rape charges.
Attorneys at the state's department of justice recommended the $20 million settlement, arguing that the case "has a unique and tragic character," and that "a potential damages award by a jury could be extremely high." In recommending the deal, they noted that Dugard's daughters have received no formal education or medical care and that they will likely need counseling for the rest of their lives.
The state assembly approved the settlement earlier this week. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will sign the bill if the state's senate also passes it, reports the L.A. Times.