Owner of raided Mexico shelter freed, no charges
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The owner of a group home raided last week amid charges of abuse and other mistreatment of children living there has been released from custody without charge, an official in the federal Attorney General’s Office said Sunday.
The official said there was not enough evidence to warrant charges and added that the 79-year-old owner, Rosa Verduzco, is too old to be put in jail.
But the official also said the investigation was continuing. The official agreed to reveal the information only if not quoted by name because he wasn’t authorized to speak with journalists about the case.
Two of the shelter’s employees also have been released, but six others are being held in prison after witnesses accused them of beatings, sexual abuse and deprivation of liberty, officials say.
Verduzco, popularly known as Mama Rosa, was hospitalized after Tuesday’s raid in Zamora, the city in the western state of Michoacan where she has run the group home for more than 60 years, offering shelter to orphans, drug addicts and young people with social or criminal problems.
A niece, Monserrat Marin Verduzco, told The Associated Press that police officers guarding the home owner left the hospital late Saturday. She said her aunt had been kept from speaking with other people until the police left.
“People applauded the federal police when they left the hospital, and she is happy to be back in touch with her people,” the niece said.
Police raided the home after an investigation set off by complaints last year from parents who said they weren’t allowed to visit their children at the home. After the raid, authorities said that they found children living in trash-strewn rooms with filthy toiles and that some residents had recounted tales of horrific treatment, including rapes and beatings.
Some townspeople and former residents quickly came to her defense as did members of Mexico’s political and intellectual elites who praised her for helping so many people over the years.
“It was a great job that she did in Zamora and now, clearly, she is being persecuted,” Elena Poniatowska, one of Mexico’s most prominent writers, told Milenio Television. “What should be done, really, is that the government should take better care of people.”
The police raid found six babies, 154 girls, 278 boys, 50 women and 109 men, federal officials said. Prosecutors said 10 people were so severely malnourished they couldn’t determine their ages.
Authorities began moving children from the home to other facilities Friday night, but more than 300 were still awaiting relocation.