Associate: Garrido's a "Religious Freak"

Maria Christenson, a business associate of accused kidnapper and rapist Phillip Garrido, gives an exclusive interview on "The Early Show" Monday, Aug. 31, 2009.
Last year, Phillip Garrido tried to borrow $2,000 from a business associate to start a church with his wife Nancy Garrido in their Antioch, Calif., home.

But the Garridos' sales pitch didn't go the way they wanted, ending with the couple in tears and the husband admitting that he had been in prison, the business associate said Monday on CBS' "The Early Show."

Maria Christenson, who runs a recycling company, conducted business with Phillip Garrido for 10 years before the Garridos were arrested Wednesday for allegedly abducting Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991. The couple pleaded not guilty Friday to a total 29 counts, including forcible abduction, rape and unlawful imprisonment.

Christenson told "Early Show" Anchor Harry Smith from San Francisco that she turned the couple down when they asked for a $2,000 loan to build a bathroom for a church they wanted to start out of their house.

"They were both crying and she was hanging on to me, and he was saying he had been in prison," said Christenson. "I just figured it was drugs because he was so goofy."

When Smith asked whether Garrido "confessed to some things that we don't want to talk about on television in terms of sexual behavior," Christenson said yes and didn't provide any details.

Before last year, Christenson said she thought Garrido was "harmless."

"I just thought he was just a religious freak, that he was just harmless " Christenson said. "He would just keep coming and telling me about this stuff and gave me the CD, gave me the - just flyers and, you know, asking can he come to my business and preach there. And I said no."

Christenson said she once stopped by the Garridos' house, but Phillip Garrido wouldn't allow her inside. Christenson told Smith she never saw Dugard but did see one of her children.

"There was so many flags there that we should have picked up on," Christenson said.

In the 18 years that Dugard allegedly spent captive in Phillip Garrido's backyard, shielded from the world by trees, tarps, tents and tool sheds, she no doubt had a chance or two to tell someone the truth.

Customers of Garrido's Antioch home-based printing business say the young woman whom they knew as Garrido's daughter "Allissa" designed business cards and helped with the family business.

They never suspected that "Allissa" was a South Lake Tahoe girl kidnapped in 1991 at age 11.

Neighbors also had no idea that Garrido's two young daughters - now 11 and 15 - were Dugard's offspring, fathered by Garrido.

Why didn't Jaycee Dugard escape, reach out, scream for help?

The question arises every time an abductee is found with their abductors after years of hiding. But the question, and its implicit criticism of the survivors, is unfair, say experts on kidnapping.

More coverage from Crimesider:

Cops Search Suspect's Home
Why Didn't Jaycee Escape?
Exclusive: Reporter Remembers Girl's Abduction
Garrido: Dugard's Girls "Slept in My Arms Every Single Night"

"It's really important that people not jump to judgments or conclusions in these cases," said JoAnn Behrman-Lippert, a Reno, Nevada-based psychologist who has done extensive research on child abduction cases. "We know there are many cases like this, and it's very detrimental to the survivors to have such a simplistic view that does not take into account the actual situation the person was in."

Authorities say that Garrido and his wife Nancy kidnapped and raped Dugard and kept her imprisoned in the backyard compound. They pleaded not guilty Friday to the charges.

Garrido's printing business customers described Dugard as a polite and efficient aide who straightened out orders on the phone and by e-mail.

One customer, Ben Daughdrill, said he saw her twice in the last six months when he drove to the Garrido home to pick up office supplies and drop off payment. She had an opportunity to escape or seek his help when she came out alone to Daughdrill's vehicle.

"There was a reason she did not say anything," Daughdrill said.

One explanation given to victims who stay with their captors is that they have Stockholm syndrome, where the victim comes to identify with and bond with their kidnappers. The term was coined in 1973 to describe several bank employees held captive for six days in Sweden. At the end of their ordeal, the hostages resisted rescue, refused to testify against their captors and helped raise money for their legal defense.

Stockholm syndrome is most often associated with Patty Hearst, the newspaper heiress kidnapped in 1974 from her Berkeley apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army. She joined the group as "Tania," a radical in army fatigues who helped her captors rob banks before she was released months later.

More recently, in 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her Salt Lake City bedroom at night and found nine months later, living about 20 miles away with her abductor and his wife. Another famous case is that of Shawn Hornbeck of Missouri, who was kidnapped in 2002 at age 11 and found more than five years later, living with his captor a few miles from his family home.

No one yet knows the extent of what Dugard endured in Garrido's ramshackle compound far from her home. Her alleged abductor, a 58-year-old convicted sex offender who lived with his 55-year-old wife and an elderly mother, was considered an oddball and religious fanatic. Neighbors say he told them he could talk to people using only his mind.

Experts say Garrido most likely controlled Dugard by making her completely dependent on him. By isolating the victim and making them dependent on everything - food, clothing, shelter and affection - the kidnapper comes to completely control them, Behrman-Lippert and other experts say.

"In my experience with kidnapping victims," Behrman-Lippert said, "I know they don't always identify with the abductor. They figure out what kind of behaviors they need to survive."

Paula Fass, a professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley and author of "Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America," says another theory is that he told her he and his wife were her family and that she had no one else.

"Then she had no contact with the outside world without him. By the time she had children with him, obviously other things came into play," Fass said. "Obviously, she wanted to protect her children. You don't have to invoke Stockholm syndrome. She didn't have to necessarily identify with her oppressors."

Aside from Hearst's situation, many other infamous kidnapping cases cannot be explained by Stockholm syndrome, said Dr. Frank Ochberg, who coined the term.

Ochberg said that when he developed the term "Stockholm syndrome" back in the 1970s, it was to help hostage negotiators.

The paradoxical set of feelings that develop in an adult hostage - that of identifying with their kidnappers - happens when the person has sudden feelings of great fear, regresses psychologically and then little by little develops trust with his kidnappers for not killing him, Ochberg said.

But the situation is different in child abductions because of the victim's age, he said, adding that a "better" theory would be that of a relationship of slave to master.

He believes "somebody at a tender age ends up being raised in captivity by a person who gradually transforms this person into a slave," he said. "There are cultures in which this happens, in which women are given to men at a young age."

"There's still a lot more to learn about this case," Ochberg said.