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Page last updated at 21:50 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 22:50 UK

Aunt tells of Dugard family joy

Tina Dugard says the two young girls are educated and bright

The first details have emerged of how the Dugard family is faring since the release of Jaycee Lee, who was abducted and held for 18 years in California.

Aunt Tina Dugard told the Orange County Register there was a lot of laughing, crying, holding hands and reconnecting.

She said Jaycee Lee's two girls "know what's going on" but had not been allowed to watch coverage of the case.

The girls' alleged father, Phillip Garrido, and his wife have been accused of kidnapping Jaycee Lee in 1991.

On Thursday, police also released details about a previous case involving Garrido. They said he was arrested in 1972 on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl but the charges were dropped when she refused to testify.

'On the internet'

The reunion of Jaycee Lee with her mother, Terry Probyn, took place in an undisclosed location in northern California with law enforcement officials and counsellors nearby.

It's clear that Jaycee did a great job with the limited resources she had and her limited education
Tina Dugard

Tina Dugard, who spent five days with the family, told the Orange County Register there was a "sense of comfort and optimism, a sense of happiness".

She added: "People probably want to think that it's been this horrible, scary thing for all of us... [but] the horrible, scary thing happened 18 years ago, and continued to happen for the last 18 years. The darkness and despair [has lifted.]"

Recalling the reunion, Tina Dugard said Jaycee Lee and the girls first met Ms Probyn in a room.

Ms Dugard said it was then her turn, and she and Jaycee Lee recognised each other instantly.

Jaycee Lee Dugard, undated
Newly released photo of Jaycee Lee at a Halloween before her abduction

Ms Dugard also said the two children, aged 11 and 15, were "educated and bright".

"It's clear they've been on the internet and know a lot of things. It's clear that Jaycee did a great job with the limited resources she had and her limited education."

She said of Jaycee Lee: "She's fabulous, and she's beautiful."

Tina Dugard later appeared before reporters at the FBI's Los Angeles office.

There she said gave more details of the reunion.

"The smile on my sister's face was as wide as the sea," Ms Dugard said.

"This is a joyful time for my family. Not only have we laughed and cried together, but we've spent time sitting quietly, taking pleasure in each other's company.

"Jaycee remembers all of us. She is especially enjoying getting to know her little sister who was just a baby when Jaycee was taken."

A spokesman for the family said there would be no further comment on the rehabilitation for the moment.

'Drugged'

Jaycee Lee Dugard was 11 when she was snatched outside her home in South Lake Tahoe, California, in 1991.

Nancy and Phillip Garrido in court
Nancy and Phillip Garrido face a number of charges, including kidnap

She was allegedly kept as a prisoner for 18 years in a secret compound of tents and sheds behind the Garrido home in Antioch, east of San Francisco.

Her identity was only discovered last week, after Garrido was ordered to a parole meeting by police officers.

He had been noticed acting suspiciously with the two girls as he tried to enter the University of California, Berkeley, campus to hand out religious literature.

In releasing details of the 1972 case, police in Antioch said the 14-year-old girl and a friend had met Garrido, then 21, and another man near an unspecified library.

Antioch police Lt Leonard Orman said the 14-year-old girl was drugged and raped in a hotel.

Lt Orman said Garrido was to be prosecuted but the girl would not testify.

When asked whether other victims might come to light, Lt Orman said there was a "good chance".



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
CBS News What's Ahead for Jaycee and Her Girls - 4 hrs ago
Telegraph Jaycee Lee Dugard: kidnapper Phillip Garrido recorded songs about young women and girls - 6 hrs ago
USA Today AUNT SPEAKS:Kidnapped girl 'remembered all of us' - 13 hrs ago
Irish Times Why did the torment last so long? - 16 hrs ago
Mail Online UK Jaycee Lee Dugard: Phillip Garrido 'raped 14-year-old nearly 40 years ago' - 19 hrs ago



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