Caregiver flees after 91-year-old tells of sex assault

LANE NICHOLS
Last updated 05:00 19/08/2012

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A 91-year-old rest home resident told police she had been sexually assaulted by her male caregiver at a Wellington retirement village.

Police investigated the complaint but the suspect fled the country before an arrest could be made.

"The alleged victim was interviewed, so were some other staff that she disclosed the incident to," a police spokeswoman said. "But it was effectively filed because the suspect left the country."

The woman's family says the indecent assault took place at the Malvina Major retirement village in 2010 - the same home from which Stan Gyles has claimed $20,000 of jewellery was stolen from his dead mother last year.

The rest home's parent company, Ryman Healthcare, said the accused worker was no longer employed by the company.

Despite a thorough police inquiry, no arrests were made, Ryman chief executive Simon Challies said. "We have no knowledge of his whereabouts. The company does not consider that any other comment is appropriate."

Police also investigated a complaint of stolen money from a resident's handbag on Christmas Day. But Senior Constable Stu Rowe said inquiries were inconclusive "and the matter was not resolved".

The revelations come as police field new complaints about stolen jewellery at Lower Hutt's Shona McFarlane retirement village, also owned by Ryman Healthcare, and other rest homes.

Former caregiver Juan Paulo Castro Villanueva, 26, is charged with one count of theft by a person in a special relationship from four elderly residents.

Inspector Shane Cotter said other families had since come forward after revelations of Villanueva's alleged offending, "seeking to identify if family heirlooms that had been stolen from various rest homes are part of the property that's been recovered".

Cotter could not reveal the number of stolen jewellery items or their estimated value because the matter was before the courts.

Marty Doile has also contacted police about missing jewellery. His 70-year-old mother was a resident at Shona McFarlane until her death last month. She suffered from motor neuron disease and was in a wheelchair.

Doile said several earrings went missing from her drawers earlier this year. The family reported this to the home but did not alert police. "It's not about recovering it now, because it's too late. But if it's happening to us, how many others is it happening to?" He said his mother paid about $3000 a month for her rest home care, which had otherwise been to a high standard.

Another family that contacted police said their late mother's solitaire diamond engagement ring and eternity ring disappeared from her handbag last October.

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"It's heartbreaking," a relative said. "She had always wanted to pass them on to her niece."

- Sunday Star Times

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