Family of abused grandmother want Pinoy caregiver jailed

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jan 28 2014 04:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2014 12:38 AM

SAN DIEGO, California – Relieved. That's how lawyer William Berman describes his clients after Russel Torralba was arrested and deported from Canada.

Torralba, along with Alfredo Ruiz, had been accused of sexually abusing a 98-year old patient back in 2011.

Suspecting that the stroke patient was not being cared for properly by the two nurses, the family used surveillance cameras to see what was happening, only to be shocked at images that allegedly show Torralba and Ruiz appearing to fondle the bedridden grandmother, and then exposing themselves to her.

Torralba eventually went to Canada where he was found to be caring for a disabled child before he was arrested earlier this month.

"My clients are very happy that Mr. Torralba was apprehended. That he is no longer responsible for the care and oversight of a young child in Canada. It was very troubling for them to learn information that he had fled the United States into Canada where he was put in charge for caring for the oversight severely impaired 7-year-old boy," said Berman.

Berman said the family is continuing to monitor the case. Prosecutors are still waiting for Torralba to be returned to San Diego to face the criminal charges. He is currently being detained at Whatcom County Jail in Washington State, just south of the Canadian border.

While Ruiz pleaded not guilty and denied the charges last fall during his arraignment. He's scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing in March.

"For my clients, the criminal victory is as important if not more important than the civil recovery. For my clients, the criminal conviction and jail time for them would mean keeping these two individuals out of the home of others whom they could neglect or abuse," Berman added.

The alleged victim is now 100-years-old. A 2012 civil case awarded her a $1 million settlement. It also resulted in Ruiz and Torralba, both believed to be dual citizens of the US and Philippines, having their nursing licenses revoked.

It also had the care home agency, which employed the two men, shut down. Though Berman believes it may have since reopened after a different name and different ownership.

Berman said after the traumatic experience, the family has become the caregivers themselves.

The family has made the commitment to not provide paid-for caregivers. In fact, the family now is responsible for attending to her every need. They are themselves using the funds that they were obtained in the civil suit in order to care for their mother and grandmother.

While prosecutors await Torralba's return, Ruiz who faces 9 felony counts remains free on bail.