Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — No one expects a sex offender to be living in a nursing home but that is what we uncovered — 100 sex offenders living in local facilities for the elderly.
“People put their family members in these places thinking they’re safe; hoping they’re safe and they’re not,” Elizabeth Perez said as she fought back tears speaking about what she says happened to 92-year-old Evelyn Gabrielse — a dementia patient living at the Valley Christian home in Hemet.
“She was just a very pretty lovely lady,” Perez said.Perez was a caretaker when she walked into Evelyn’s room in April of 2009 and saw her sitting in her wheelchair with a male resident standing over her.
“He had his penis in her hand and he was going to put it in her mouth,” Perez said.
He is Frank Battista, a registered sex offender, convicted of exposing himself to his granddaughter. Battista was living in the very facility trusted to take care of Evelyn.
“Did you ever think a registered sex offender would be living in an assisted living facility?” I asked Evelyn’s brother Ron.
“Oh my goodness, no. I was shocked to learn that… I think it’s terrible that he was even there.”
But he is not the only one. We found more than 100 registered sex offenders living in nursing homes in Southern California, all there legally because there is no law against it.
“It really upsets me. Still makes me angry,” Ron said.
He thought he was doing the right thing for his sister Evelyn when he put her in Valley Christian nine years ago.
“Being a Christian home we felt very comfortable with the idea… She took care of me when I was a baby. She was 20-years older. So she took care of me and I had the chance to take care of her.”
He would take her to church every week. He said he saw Battista in the facility and thought he was just another helpful resident.
“He’d come and serve coffee and was nice to everyone and I guess people thought he was pretty nice and that is how he wormed his way in.”
In the last few years he says Evelyn’s health started to deteriorate. She had dementia. And that is when he believes his sister became vulnerable.
“She was a very upstanding moral person and she just never would have allowed that to happen.”
Ron said his sister never mentioned what allegedly happened, but he could see a change.
“I think she knew something happened that shouldn’t have.”
One month later Evelyn died.
According to the investigative report obtained by CBS2 News the administrator said he found out Battista was a registered sex offender about two years ago, but told investigators he was not concerned about residents’ safety because of the nature of his sex crimes — dealing with a child and not an adult.
“To know his history — why did they let him live there with other women?”
Perez says she reported it to regulators because the facility didn’t. Valley Christian was eventually cited for failing to report the incident and this January Battista was charged with a felony, indecent exposure with a prior sex offense.
But he still lives at Valley Christian.
We knocked on his door, but he wouldn’t come out to talk. But told me on the phone the charges were false.
He is just one of 100 sex offenders we found on California’s Megan’s Law website,who are registered at addresses of nursing homes and elderly care facilities in L.A., Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties.
“When you put the predators in with the prey someone’s going to get bit,” said Wes Bledsoe, founder of A Perfect Cause, an organization dedicated to uncovering sex offenders in nursing homes.
“We have documented many cases of murder, rape, sexual assault, physical assault committed against the residents. Male as well as female residents,” Bledsoe said.
“I just hope he, pause, spends the rest of his life in jail,” said Evelyn’s brother, Ron, as he continues to look for justice.
Perez hopes that what she witnessed won’t happen to others.
“You go to these retirement homes to live your last days happy and for something like that to happen, it’s just not fair. It’s not right,” Perez said.
Location information for registered sex offenders was obtained from the California Megan’s Law sex offender locator site and is current as of February 21, 2011. The locations were then crossed with addresses of nursing homes and elderly care facilities to come up with the information contained on the map.