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"Sex abuse allegations shut Riverside care homes"

The Press–Enterprise

10:00 PM PST on Monday, November 26, 2007

State regulators have closed two Riverside residential care homes after they say at least four elderly residents at one of the homes had been sexually abused by a child working at the home.

Inland Empire Home Care’s facilities on Sierra Street and Coronado Way were closed Nov. 19 by investigators with the California Department of Social Services, said agency spokesman Oscar Ramirez.

Owners Magdalina and Gabriel Gurau have 15 days to object to the move, which includes the revocation of their licenses.

Magdalina Gurau on Monday denied the inspectors’ allegations and said she intended to appeal the closures.

"They don’t have any proof," she said.

She said she found out about the investigation when two police officers arrived at her home. Gurau would not elaborate or answer any more questions.

Attorney Danuta Tuszynska, who is representing the Guraus, said the allegations were the "aberrations" of an employee who has questionable credibility.

"The allegations are untrue and cannot be substantiated," Tuszynska said.

She said she is working with investigators to get the Guraus’ homes reopened soon.

Riverside police spokesman Steven Frasher on Monday confirmed that detectives are investigating the case, but would say little more.

"It’s at a phase where the team doesn’t want to talk about it at all for fear of compromising the investigation," he said.

No arrests have been made, Frasher said.

Overall, the state Social Services Department received 69,114 elder abuse reports in 2006, according to the California attorney general’s office.

Riverside County reported 3,198 cases and San Bernardino County reported 5,999 cases.

Ramirez didn’t know how many of the complaints involved sexual abuse allegations.

The Sierra Street home, where inspectors say residents were sexually abused, has been licensed since Nov. 20, 1996, and had six residents.

The Guraus’ Coronado Way facility has been licensed since May, 16, 2000, and had 12 residents.

On Nov. 16, inspectors went to the homes after receiving a complaint, Ramirez said. That’s when they told the Guraus they had three days to find new homes for their residents, Ramirez said.

"Investigators were there at 5:30 p.m. on the 19th to make sure all the residents were out," he said.

Investigators allege that a juvenile younger than 18, sexually abused residents, stole money from them and threatened one with a switchblade while working at the Sierra Street home, according to the Department of Social Services’ complaint against the Guraus. The sexual abuse had occurred since June, the complaint states.

Four others younger than 18 also worked at the Sierra Street facility in violation of state law, according to the complaint.

Regulations require employees of residential care homes to be at least 18 years old, pass criminal background checks and be fingerprinted, and receive adequate training.

Investigators found that two of the Guraus’ adult children, who were working at the Sierra Street facility, had not been fingerprinted or adequately trained, the complaint states.

Inspectors also found unsecured kitchen cabinets and a storage shed, which contained chemicals and hazardous items, exposed wiring and trash and dog feces outside the facility, according to the complaint.