Prosecutors have charged a man who assists his wife with weekly Communion at a Northern California convalescent home with allegedly molesting two elderly patients.
Fifty-six-year-old Julio Mestre of San Pablo is being held in jail on several felony counts including sexual assault against a disabled person, elder abuse, sexual battery and burglary. He pleaded not guilty last week in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
Police say the 66-year-old victim couldn’t respond during the attack because she was deaf and had difficulty speaking. Her 79-year-old roommate recognized the attacker and repeatedly pressed the panic button until workers came to their aid. She claims Mestre visited their room in January and sexually attacked her as well. Police have not released either of the women’s names.
When police arrived at the scene, Mestre was gone. The next morning, on Mother’s Day, Mestre came back to the convalescent home where workers recognized him and called 9-1-1. Police took Mestre to the station for questioning, and later arrested him.
Lieutenant Mark Foisie of San Pablo Police Department says Mestre targeted the helpless.
“This person picked our most vulnerable people. They’re in a bed totally dependent on other adults. They can’t communicate and they’re being assaulted,” he says.
Lee Stoodley visits her sister two or three times a week at Creekside Health Care Center. Almost in tears, she recalls her sister making similar claims.
“She said some person came in her room—a man—and I thought she was hallucinating,” she says. “She told me one time some man was in her bed. She said she was terrified,” says Stoodley.
Mestre is registered with San Pablo as a sex offender for a similar crime involving a patient at Laguna Honda Hospital in 2005.
Currently, Mestre is charged with nine counts of violent crime against a vulnerable person—including sexual assault and elder abuse. He is in custody at Martinez County Jail with a $700,000 bail.
Spokeswoman Melody Chatelle from Creekside Healthcare Center says the center is "cooperating fully" with the police investigation and that Mestre's wife no longer serves communion at the center. She says the center does not employ any security guards.
Police are investigating to see if there are any other Bay Area patients who may have been victimized by Mestre.
Published at 5:55 PM PDT on May 26, 2010 | Updated at 11:13 PM PDT on May 26, 2010
Copyright Associated Press