Jaycee Lee Dugard was only 11 when convicted rapist and sex offender, Phillip Garrido allegedly opened the door of his car, reached out and pulled her into his vehicle right before the eyes of her stepfather, Carl Probyn. Probyn, 60, had initially been a suspect in Jaycee’s abduction. Carl told investigators from the beginning that he saw a man and woman in the “gray Monarch” vehicle. According to Probyn, that car was found in the backyard of the home where Garrido lives and held Jaycee hostage for the past 18 years.
The story began to emerge when Garrido tried to enter the campus of University of California, Berkeley, with two children in tow. Officers believed he was acting suspiciously toward the children. They questioned him and discovered he was a parolee after running a background check. The officers notified his parole officer who ordered Garrido to appear for a parole meeting. Garrido brought his wife Nancy, Jaycee Dugard and two children to the meeting. Garrido admitted to kidnapping Dugard while being questioned. Investigators report that Garrido kidnapped Jaycee, raped her and fathered the above mentioned two children with her. The two girls, now 15 and 11, were kept with their mother in tents in a secret backyard compound on the abductor’s property.
Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy, have been arrested and held on $1 million bond. Garrido has been charged with “kidnapping, rape, lewd and lascivious behavior, sexual penetration and conspiracy.” Nancy Garrido has been charged with “kidnapping and conspiracy.”
Chillingly, 15 years prior to Jaycee’s disappearance, Garrido, 25 at the time, knocked on the window of a casino worker’s car stating his vehicle wouldn’t start. The 25 year old victim agreed to give Garrido a ride. Once inside her car, Garrido handcuffed her, taped her mouth shut and drove her from South Lake Tahoe across state lines to Reno and the storage unit where she was raped. Phillip Garrido was convicted of these crimes in February of 1977. He served only 10 years in federal prison before being transferred to a state facility in Nevada. He was released in 1988.
Prior to the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, Garrido was a violent sexual predator. How then is it possible that this convicted sex offender was able to grab an 11 year old off the street and hold her hostage for 18 years even fathering two children with his victim? Cases such as this are shocking and cause citizens to angrily ask how this can happen and how it can be prevented it from happening again. Unfortunately, there are two factors that must be considered when these questions are posited. These are the facts that sexual assaults are vastly underreported and that the recidivism rate for convicted sexual predators is underestimated.
Sexual Assault is a Vastly Underreported Crime
The National crime Victimization Surveys (Bureau of Justice Statistics) that were conducted in 1994, 1995, and 1998 conclude that cases of sexual assault against persons 12 or older were reported to law enforcement only 32 percent of the time. In 1992, Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour concluded a 3 year study and determined that out of 4,008 adult women, 84 percent of those who identified themselves as rape victims did not report this crime to law enforcement officials. While there are currently no studies on the reporting of child sexual assault, it is widely assumed that these crimes are equally underreported. There are many reasons women choose not to report these crimes. Many victims feel immense shame and guilt and this can be compounded by their fears of not being believed, by being traumatized again by the response of the authorities and that others will find out about the assault. Victims of incest are also less likely to report their assault due to the disruption to their families. Because the reasons for failing to report assault to the authorities is so complex, it is highly unlikely that the percentage of victims who report their assaults will change drastically in the near future. Obviously, if the victims are not reporting the assaults then the perpetrators continue, unpunished, to troll for more victims. It is terrifying to consider that in 1997, Greenfeld concluded that, due to low reporting, the 265,000 convicted sex offenders under the authority of corrections agencies represent less than 10 percent of all sexual predators living amongst us in our communities across the nation.
Underestimated Recidivism Rates
Measuring recidivism as reflected through convictions in the official criminal justice system data obviously omits those offenses not reported or not successfully prosecuted. Many studies have been undertaken that conclude that recidivism rates are underreported. In their 1990 study, Marshall and Barbaree compared the “official” records of sex offenders with “unofficial” sources of data. They determined that the number of subsequent offenses revealed through the unofficial sources was 2.4 times higher than the number reflected in the official report. Even more troubling is that by researching polygraph examinations taken by a sample of jailed sex offenders with fewer than two known victims, Ahlmeyer, Heil, McKee, and English determined that these offenders actually had an average of 110 victims and 318 offenses! Another polygraph study found a sample of jailed sex offenders to have been committing sex crimes for an average of 16 years before being caught (Ahlmeyer, English, and Simons, 1999).
What, then, can be done to protect our children from becoming victims of sexual assault? Unfortunately, the more crimes that go unreported or unprosecuted the more victims we will have. When violent sexual predators, such as Phillip Garrido, only receive a sentence of 10 years for a violent sexual attack, they are released only to find more victims. Thus, the vicious cycle of sexual assault continues.
Center for sex Offender Management . (Aug. 2000). Myths and Facts About Sex Offenders. (online), 28 Aug 2009.
SexOffender.com. (n.d.). Recidivism of Sex Offenders. (online), 28 Aug. 2009.
Huff, Steve. (27 Aug. 2009). Meet Phillip Craig Garrido. (online), 28 Aug. 2009.
Williams, Juliet and Young, Samantha. (27 Aug. 2009). Kidnapped woman hidden in CA backyard for 18 years. (online), 28 Aug. 2009.