Mexico declares group home owner mentally unfit

AP News
Posted: Jul 21, 2014 9:10 PM
Mexico declares group home owner mentally unfit

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The owner of a group home raided last week is mentally unfit to face allegations that she frequently hit children living in the shelter, Mexico's top federal prosecutor said Monday.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said the woman who founded the shelter where about 600 people were rescued shows "symptoms characteristic of senility."

Authorities said over the weekend that 79-year-old Rosa Verduzco, known as "Mama Rosa," had been released from a hospital where she received diabetes treatment under custody. Local media said she was moved to another hospital for treatment of heart problems.

Murillo Karam said many residents of the Gran Familia group home allege that Verduzco hit them. But he noted that lately, she had been too sick to move around much.

Six employees of the shelter have been charged with kidnapping for allegedly refusing to release residents and with human trafficking for purportedly forcing them to beg for money. The six also face organized crime charges.

Prosecutors say sexual abuse charges may be brought against some of the six, especially three men who have been accused by residents of sexually abusing them.

Murillo Karam said there was no indication that Verduzco, once revered for her work in taking in children for almost 65 years, knew about the alleged sex abuse.

After the July 15 raid on the refuse-strewn group home, residents of the shelter told authorities that some employees beat and raped residents, fed them rotting food or locked them in a tiny "punishment" room.

Asked about why authorities didn't inspect the home more thoroughly, or why some officials continued to provide donations or refer children to the shelter, the attorney general suggested there may be blame enough to spread around.

"We all bear responsibility," he said.

Authorities are also investigating the notary public who witnessed illegal contracts that purportedly allowed Verduzco to keep children until they were 18.

Some of the children found at the group home in the western state of Michoacan have now been moved to other facilities to ease overcrowding at the shelter.