Friday, June 3, 2011

Jaycee Dugard Speaks at Captor's Sentencing

Aerial view of the backyard prison/home for Jaycee and her daughters
Jaycee Dugard, released with the two daughters fathered by her captor in 2009 after 18 years of being hidden "in plain sight" of parole officers and neighbors, spoke to the man who terrorized her in a statement read in court today by her mother, Terry Probyn. Read the full transcript of Jaycee's statement here.

Phllip Garrido, now convicted of multiple rape and sexual assault charges, will spend the next 431 years in prison for his scheme to kidnap 11-year-old Jaycee to take care of his perverted sexual needs:
"In the beginning he said that I was helping him and that, you know, he had a sex problem and that, you know, he got me so that he wouldn't have to do this to anybody else. So I was helping him," she said.
This article at Huffington Post gives previously unknown details of the girls' captivity, based on testimony to the Grand Jury which was unsealed after the defendants left the courtroom.
The documents provided another window into Dugard's ordeal even though Judge Douglas Phimister had ordered that all descriptions of the sexual activity Phillip Garrido forced on her and often videotaped be withheld.

"Some of the testimony is absolutely disgusting. The graphic description of these events that occurred would shock adults, even adults who have a distorted view of intimacy," the judge said.

Is this TOO MUCH INFORMATION?  He's in jail, she's fine, in fact got $20 million from the State of California for bungling probation investigations that should have revealed her presence in Garrido's back yard.  It's over now, so let's move on, you may say.  Not so fast.

In 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by a crazy imitation holy man and his wife.  Nine months later she was identified by a police officer as the three walked the streets of a small town only 18 miles away from her home.  In 2009 suspicious officials apprehended Phillip Garrido shortly after his tract distribution trip to the UC Berkeley Campus with his "nieces" - Jaycee's daughters - caused campus police to do a background check, ending Jaycee's 18 year imprisonment.

So two blonde girls are abducted  by weird religious perverts and their blankly obedient wives and/or recovered within a fairly close time frame.  After the initial buzz of stories and photo spreads in People Magazine, the girls insist on their privacy and disappear into protective families, waiting for the law to take its course. If you have melted these two cases into one in your mind and memory, that would be perfectly understandable. That's certainly what I did.

But now that Garrido, his wife, Brian Mitchell, and Wanda Barzee are convicted of multiple felonies and are serving jail terms, the similarities are falling away and, back in control of their lives, Elizabeth and Jaycee are telling their stories, Elizabeth in interviews and Jaycee in a book. Turns out here are many more differences in their experiences than similarities, but it would seem that we ought to pay attention to their full stories, in their own voices, since we paid attention to the partial preliminary bits and bytes in the voices of reporters and commentators.  A question of fairness, and also a question of accuracy.

WNL comments:  The biggest difference I see between Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard is that Elizabeth, in every interview I've seen, is so normal, so upbeat, a triumphant survivor of her ordeal almost before it was over.  She's fine!  She is certainly entitled to be fine, but I'm left wondering....  Jaycee, on the other hand, went through something and needed to recover, is probably still recovering.  Maybe there are just many ways of moving on, I don't know.

While Elizabeth gives us nothing but a lovely smile, Jaycee has something to say. There's a lot of trauma around these days and Jaycee has written a book (available at Amazon in July, 2011) about her experience of the loss and recovery of her life.  The book - along with the statement she asked her mother to read in court today - is the proof of the return of her voice.  Listening to her version of what she lived, rather than making you a lowbrow crime junkie, may resonate with something that has happened to you, and help you understand your life or the life of someone you love. 

Elizabeth Smart's book is available here.

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