California Official Admits Failure in Jaycee Dugard Case

Neighbor reported girl named Jaycee living on Garrido property in 1991.

November 4, 2009, 2:20 PM

Nov. 5, 2009— -- The corrections department official who was slammed in a California state report for failing to properly supervise Jaycee Dugard's accused kidnapper said today his parole agent's workload restricted him to spending only 45 minutes a week on each of his cases.

"Mistakes were made by the department and by this agent," Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, told "Good Morning America" today. "Our focus, though, is to make sure each agent has more time in that 45 minutes to focus on GPS tracks."

The scathing report, released Wednesday by the California Office of the Inspector General, said Phillip Garrido's parole officers missed several chances to rescue the now 29-year-old Dugard and the two daughters fathered by the registered sex offender.

Garrido was outfitted with GPS monitoring, according to the report, but parole agents ignored 335 alerts that his device had lost its signal, which Cate blamed on the location of his house and poor reception. Other signals showed Garrido was spending a considerable amount of time in his backyard.

The report also noted that Garrido was paid 60 visits by parole agents in a 10-year period. Even where there were obvious clues that something was amiss in the Garrido household, there was no follow-up.

A neighbor in 1991 -- the year of the kidnapping -- reported seeing a young blond girl in the backyard who said her name was Jaycee. And in 2008 a parole office found a young girl in Garrido's house, a direct violation of his parole, but did nothing.

And Garrido, a man with a violent history of rape and kidnapping, was considered a minimum-level offender when authorities now say he should have been classified as a highly dangerous predator.

California Inspector General David Shaw said his department's review found that Garrido was properly supervised for 12 out of the 123 months he was under California's jurisdiction, a failure rate of 90 percent.

Dugard was found in August, 18 years after her 1991 kidnapping. She was rescued after Garrido, 58, took her two daughters to hand out religious material at the UC Berkeley campus, tipping off two police employees there.

A background check showed that Garrido was a registered sex offender and his nearly two-decades-old crime unraveled when he showed up at a meeting with his parole officer with Dugard and the two girls in tow.

Cate admitted today that if it hadn't been for the UC Berkeley employees, it is "very possible" that Dugard and her daughters would still be in the Garridos' backyard.

Dugard initially protected Garrido when confronted by authorities the day she was rescued, telling them that he was a good man and that she was from Minnesota, hiding from an abusive husband, according to the report.

Dugard and her family did not comment on the specifics of the report but issued a statement on the overall findings.

"The inspector general's report clearly sets out many missed opportunities to bring a much earlier end to the nightmares of Jaycee Dugard and her family," a family spokesperson, who asked not to be identified, told today, reading from a statement. "We expect that the appropriate authorities will take the necessary action to ensure this never happens again. In addition, Jaycee is fully committed to holding Mr. Garrido accountable for the crimes he has committed."

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, have been charged on 28 counts, including rape and kidnapping. They have pleaded not guilty. Garrido's bond has been set at $30 million.

Report: Parole System Jeopardizes Public Safety

The report also noted several general shortcomings in the system that "transcend parolee Garrido's case and jeopardize public safety."

Among the department's shortcomings in the Garrido case:

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation took charge of Garrido's supervision in 1999 after he was released from federal supervision. Garrido was convicted in the 1970s of raping and kidnapping a California woman.

Recommendations include more training on search techniques to look for clues for potential parole violations or criminal behavior and contacting neighbors for information on parolee behavior.

Shortly after Garrido was arrested in connection with Dugard's rape and kidnapping, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation official hailed the parole agents who had been assigned to Garrido's case, saying that Garrido had complied with his parole conditions and never received a violation.

But the report indicated that while Garrido had never been issued a formal violation from the state of California, he committed several violations in the past several years. The report did not list those specific violations.

The state began investigating the handling of Garrido's supervision "almost immediately" after Dugard was found, Shaw told in September.

Shaw said it is believed that Garrido had five or six parole supervisors assigned by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the past 10 years.

The investigation, he said in September, was to see if there had been any misconduct on the part of a state employee and to determine whether improvements could be made to prevent a similar situation from occurring again.

State parole officers and police are known to have paid Garrido and his wife, Nancy, visits to their Antioch, Calif., home. As recently as 2006, an officer with the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office was called to the house on a complaint from a neighbor that there were people living in the backyard.

The officer met with Garrido in his front yard, determined there was no threat and left.

At a press conference in August, Sheriff Warren Rupf took responsibility for the incident and noted that they were not aware of Garrido's sex offender status.

"He did not enter or request to enter the backyard. This is not an acceptable outcome. Organizationally, we should have been more inquisitive, more curious and turned over a rock or two," he said at the time. "I cannot change the course of events. But we are beating ourselves up over this and will continue to do so."

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Gordon Hinkle said the 2006 incident was cause in itself for review of communications between the state and local jurisdictions. Garrido's parole officer at the time was never notified of the complaint.

In the weeks after the Garridos' arrest, much of the blame seemed to rest on manpower: overwhelmed police officers and parole officers who have dozens or hundreds of felons to check on in a state that has been besieged by budget shortfalls.

Hinkle said parole officers are assigned to sex offenders on a 40 to 1 ratio statewide, unless the offender has been designated as a "sexually violent" predator, in which case the ratio shrinks to 20 to 1.

Garrido, he said, was not classified as a sexually violent predator.

In addition to the Garrido case, the supervision of sex offenders has come under fire in other states recently, most notably in the case of Cleveland predator Anthony Sowell, a registered sex offender who was charged with murder Saturday. Authorities have so far found 11 bodies hidden in his home.

Sex offenders were also at the forefront of the search for whoever kidnapped and murdered 7-year-old Somer Thompson in northern Florida last month. No arrests have been made in her death.

Jaycee Dugard Relishing Reunion With Family

Dugard, now 29, and her daughters, 11 and 15, have been living with her mother and half-sister in an undisclosed location in Northern California ever since they were reunited. A recent People magazine photo shoot portrayed the young woman, whose hair has darkened from blond to light brown, smiling with her family and happily riding horses.

Dugard was 11 years old when she was snatched off the street near her school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Her stepfather, Carl Probyn, heard her screams and chased the car down the street on a bicycle to no avail.

A gray Ford later impounded from Garrido's property matched the description Probyn gave to authorities after Dugard was abducted.

Garrido has also been considered a potential suspect in the disappearances of 9-year-old Michaela Garecht in 1988 and 11-year-old Ilene Misheloff in 1989. Both girls vanished within close proximity of where Garrido was living at the time and in a similar fashion as the Dugard abduction. Michaela was taken in broad daylight in front of a friend.

Searches of the Garridos' property once the Dugard investigators moved out turned up several pieces of bone fragment, but tests later revealed they were too old to have been connected to the disappearance of either girl.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events