Ex-nurses sentenced in La Jolla elder abuse case
Published - 05/13/15 - 07:06 AM | 3163 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two ex-nurses were sentenced May 12 to 325 and 365 days in jail respectively for the 2011 elder abuse of a La Jolla grandmother they had been hired to care for before they were spotted in a sex act on hidden camera footage.

Russell Olvera Torralba, 43, and Alfredo Villagarcia Ruiz, 43, who had been free on $200,000 bond, were led to jail after San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Walsh denied an attorney’s request to surrender at a later date.

Torralba received one year in jail, while Ruiz was sentenced to 325 days. Walsh put both ex-nurses on five years' probation. Walsh gave Torralba credit for 273 days and Ruiz 20 days in jail. Torralba's attorneys had asked for credit for time served, with no additional jail.

The family filed a civil suit against the company which employed the men. The suit has settled.

The men were hired by the family of a 98-year-old grandmother to care for her in her own home. She had suffered a stroke and could not speak or move freely, and her grandchildren testified May 12 how the discovery of the men’s sexual activities in front of her affected the family.

Eduardo Diecas, a grandson, said his grandmother was in great distress and that they didn’t discover the reason until the family viewed the security camera footage. He told the judge the ex-nurses took advantage of a position of trust.

Diecas said the tape showed his grandmother’s “left arm flailing up and down” in bed to show her distress while the pair had oral sex or fondled each other. Diecas said the woman, now 102, “continues to be apprehensive.”

The licenses for both men were revoked by the state on July 2, 2013. They both pleaded guilty to committing elder abuse, a felony, and Torralba also pleaded guilty to committing elder abuse on a male patient in a board and care facility he used to own.

The security camera footage somehow ended up on the Internet, with at least six websites showing it. The grandmother’s face and the men’s sex acts were obscured. Ruiz is shown to be wearing only a towel in one scene.

“We did everything we could to spare her from a nursing home,” said a granddaughter. “(She) is imprisoned in her own mind and body. They disrespected her beyond belief.”

Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood said the sad lesson of the case points to the necessity of security cameras to view caregivers.

Walsh said “the damaged inflicted is ongoing” to the family, including the patient’s daughter, who was in the audience. He said any elder deserves “respect and dignity.” He also rejected Torralba’s attorney’s request that he serve his sentence in work furlough.

Torralba was arrested in January of 2014 in Canada, to which he had fled, and was working as a live-in nurse to a developmentally disabled boy there.

-- Neal Putnam

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