On June 5, 2010, Jean Swope’s front door was forced open. Jean was taken from her home and hidden from family at Wildwood Canyon Villa, an assisted living facility in San Bernardino County. Within days, Jean’s captors seized control of her entire estate worth over a million dollars. For fifteen months, Wildwood staff unlawfully isolated Jean from her loved ones.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department substantiated that Jean’s estate was taken and that Wildwood isolated Jean from family. Then the Department determined that no crime was committed. Deputy District Attorney Tristan Svare told family, “There is nothing out of the ordinary.”
Jean’s family retained attorneys and investigators to establish the facts of the case. Records from caregivers contained evidence of repeated sexual assaults by a male caregiver. Medication records establish that Jean was chemically restrained with Ativan, Seroquel, and Haldol when she begged for help. Medical records show that Jean required emergency room treatment for vaginal bleeding and genital trauma.
For the past five years, Jean’s family has forwarded evidence to Sheriff John McMahon. For five years, family has requested an investigation into the abuse that Jean suffered the last years of her life. The letter below, like all previous letters to Sheriff McMahon, has received no reply.
March 11, 2015
In July 2010, we requested investigations of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and forced isolation of my mom at an assisted living facility. The goal of those crimes was to convert my mom’s $1M estate for the benefit of a step-granddaughter. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD) assigned Deputy Grant Ward, (Yucaipa High School Resource Officer) to investigate elder abuse. Deputy Ward determined that holding my mom against her will and denying contact with loved ones was not a crime. Deputy Ward further determined that conversion of my mom’s entire estate was a civil matter, not a crime.
In 2012, Deputy Ward testified under oath that he believed assisted living facilities have the authority to hold residents against their will and to forcibly isolate residents. Deputy Ward testified that he had no knowledge of the Residents’ Bill of Rights, which is incorporated into facility licensing regulations. There was no indication that SBCSD provided deputies with appropriate training on civil rights or elder abuse.
In June 2011 and September 2013, we requested SBCSD assign a competent officer to investigate the case. We specifically requested a deputy with training in elder abuse. There has been no response to those requests.
In 2013, California’s legislature passed AB 937 which clarified the conservatee’s right to visitation, phone calls, and personal mail. The bill was passed primarily because of extended isolation abuse of my mom, facilitated by SBCSD.
In 2014, California’s legislation passed AB 2171 which established a statutory Residents’ Bill of Rights for assisted living facilities. The bill was passed in part because of violation of my mom’s personal rights, facilitated by SBCSD.
In August 2014, November 2014, December 2014, January 2015, and February 2015, we requested investigations of possible sexual assaults against my mom by a male caregiver in the assisted living facility. There has been no response to those requests.
This letter is our fourth request for an investigation of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and financial abuse perpetrated against my mom. The document excerpts below show my mom’s progressive dementia, aggravated kidnapping by two tax preparers, and conversion of my mom’s entire $1M estate for the benefit a step-granddaughter.
To date, there has been no competent investigation of the crimes. Perpetrators remain at large and free to abuse with impunity.
The statute of limitation for most elder abuse crimes is five years. My mom was kidnapped on June 5, 2010, nearly five years ago. It would appear that your intent is to allow the statute to run, after which time an investigation of these crimes would be moot. Such a practice is very short-sighted and does not serve the residents of San Bernardino County.