'Mama' of Mexican children's shelter accused of horrific abuses skirts prosecution

Rosa Verduzco, aka "Mama Rosa", has breakfast at the San Jose Hospital, in Zamora, Mexico on July 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Rosa Verduzco, aka "Mama Rosa", has breakfast at the San Jose Hospital, in Zamora, Mexico on July 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexico will not prosecute the elderly director of a shelter where abuses of children allegedly ran rampant, as she has dementia, Justice Minister Jesus Murillo Karam said Monday.

Murillo Karam said that octogenarian Rosa Verduzco, better known as "Mama Rosa," has apparent senile dementia, and as such cannot be tried.

Police raided the home, known as "La Gran Familia" and located in the western town of Zamora, last Tuesday amid reports that five kidnapped children were being held there.

They found those children and much more: 400 minors and 200 adults living among large piles of rotting food and other fetid trash, as well as horror stories about sleeping amid rats and insects - and even being forced to perform oral sex on adults.

Verduzco, who founded the shelter some 60 years ago, was hospitalised due to hypertension and kept under police guard pending charges after the raid. By late Saturday all charges were dropped and Verduzco was allowed to go free.

However six of the eight workers who had been arrested with her were jailed, local media reported, citing attorneys for the workers. Murillo Karam said six now remained in detention awaiting trial and two were freed.

At least one of those detained has confessed to sexual abuse, investigation spokesman Tomas Zeron has said, adding that some of the children at the shelter reportedly suffered physical abuse such as beatings or were kept in isolation with little food.

Amid questions as to why the elderly "Mama Rosa" would not be tried in a case so horrific, Murillo Karam said "given her cognitive functioning problems, in addition to her advanced age, she has... symptoms consistent with senile dementia."

"That is the main reason that forces this agency not to prosecute her," he said, while acknowledging "many, many" allegations of abuse perpetrated by her, mainly beatings.

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments