Elder abuse investigations at Wildwood Canyon Villa in Yucaipa, California continue to uncover heinous violations of state law and civil rights of residents. On February 25, 2012, Executive Director Lynnette Alvarado testified that she instructed Wildwood staff to prevent resident Jean Swope from seeing her family or calling her family for help.
Swope, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, was hidden at Wildwood against her will by a step-granddaughter. In June 2010, the step-granddaughter manipulated Swope into signing a new will and trust in favor of the step-family. The step-granddaughter testified that she instructed Wildwood to isolate Swope from her family to prevent family recovering Swope’s $1M estate.
Licensing regulations state that residents in residential care facilities have the right to leave the facility, have the right to visitors, and have the right to phone calls.
(6) To leave or depart the facility at any time and to not be locked into any room, building, or on facility premises by day or night.
(11) To have his/her visitors, including ombudspersons and advocacy representatives permitted to visit privately during reasonable hours and without prior notice, provided that the rights of other residents are not infringed upon.
(14) To have reasonable access to telephones, to both make and receive confidential calls. The licensee may require reimbursement for long distance calls.
California Penal Code 368(f) uses stronger language.
(f) Any person who commits the false imprisonment of an elder or a dependent adult by the use of violence, menace, fraud, or deceit is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years.
In the first week of July 2010, Swope called her daughter pleading for help escaping from Wildwood. Wildwood Canyon Villa confiscated Swope’s cell phone to prevent further calls for help. Assistant Director Lori Valdepena told Swope’s daughter, Jean Swope is to have no phone calls and no visitors. All calls go through [step-granddaughter].
Wildwood’s Call Logs and Tenant Service Notes were obtained pursuant to subpoena. Those documents confirm ongoing denial of phone calls and visitation.
7/30/2010 Call log: Clara [sister] She asked is this one of [step-granddaughter’s] thing where she can’t talk to anyone.
7/31/2010 Call Log: Clara [sister] called to talk to Jean. Stated she had already spoken to [step-granddaughter]. Clara just wants to tell Jean she loves her. WB (LVN Wendy Barrera)
8/4/2010 Call Log: Clara [sister] called @8:25 am. She wanted to speak to Jean and know who is responsible for her not being able to speak to Jean. She asked if it was [step-granddaughter] or Lynnette? WB (LVN Wendy Barrera)
8/5/2010 Tenant Service Notes: Read her new Service Plan as well as the memo in front of the MC Deskbook regarding who can call and speak with her. WB (LVN Wendy Barrera)
8/11/2010 Call Log: Martin [significant other]. I explained to him that he is not on the list (authorized) to speak w/ Jean. He then said are you sure I’m not on the list. I then told him yes. TC
8/12/2010 Tenant Service Notes: She enjoys speaking with her family when they call – the ones [step-granddaughter] stated are OK to talk with. CH (LVN Candace Hull)
8/12/2010 Call Log: [Daughter] called wanting to speak w/ Jean. I informed [daughter] that she was not on the list of persons authorized to speak to Jean. TC
8/13/2010 Call Log: Jenny [niece] called – wanted to speak with Jean and I informed her that she was to speak with [step-granddaughter] in regards to being able to talk w/ Jean. TC
9/28/2010 Tenant Service Notes: The Executive Director stated that MC-18’s family … are not allowed in the building until further notice. AP (April Pledger)
10/11/2010 Tenant Service Notes: [Significant other] came to see Jean. I called [step-granddaughter] and asked if it was allowed. She said, “No.” AP (April Pledger)
10/18/2010 Tenant Service Notes: Resident is NOT to have any visitors other then (sic) [step-granddaughter] per Lynnette. Do not allow any one in the building without Lynette’s approval first. AP (April Pledger)
11/17/2010 Call Log: Martin [significant other] phoned to speak w/ Jean and I informed him that [daughter] is the only one to speak w/ Jean until we hear otherwise from the courts. TC
11/17/2010 Call Log: Clara [sister] called and wanted to speak to Jean – informed her that we still haven’t received word if anyone else can phone besides [daughter]. TC
Executive Director Lynnette Alvarado testified that Vice President John Davis instructed Alvarado to have family arrested for trespassing if they attempted to visit Swope. Wildwood allowed Swope limited phone contact with her daughter beginning November 2010, when the court ordered Wildwood to allow phone calls. Wildwood continued to deny visitation until family obtained a restraining order against isolation in September 2011.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department was complicit in the elder abuse. Deputy Grant Ward testified that he ignored Penal Code 368 and threatened family with arrest if they attempted to establish contact with Swope. Ward further threatened to charge Swope’s daughter with a crime if she reported his actions. Sergeant Paul Morrison reiterated the threats made by Ward.
San Bernardino County Internal Affairs found no fault with Ward’s or Morrison’s actions. The Department has since promoted Ward to detective.
San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Tristan Svare told family, “There is nothing out of the ordinary. Stop calling!”