Family of elder-abuse victim seeks justice

The family of an elderly woman allegedly abused by a U.S. man who fled to B.C. say they want him returned to face justice.

Russel Olvena Torralba was arrested last week in South Vancouver where he was working as a live-in caregiver for a severely disabled child. Torralba is charged in California with elder neglect and committing a lewd act upon a dependent adult.

The charges stem from a shocking incident caught on video in which Torralba and another nurse were allegedly seen fondling each other while touching a 98-year-old stroke victim, who lay helpless in the bed beside them. The pair were hired by the woman's family to work in her San Diego home.

Ariela Deicas, the woman’s granddaughter, says she’s angry that the man fled California — and shocked to hear that he has been caring for a disabled eight-year-old boy.

"My heart is just broken to think that anything could have been done to this child," says Deicas.

Torralba's nursing licence was revoked after other allegations arose around the neglect of several seniors in a care home he ran.

Both B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Families and Vancouver Police are investigating the new allegations.

According to a ministry spokesperson, all residential service providers that contract with the ministry must follow certain standards, including a documented criminal record check and the submission of verified educational and professional qualifications.

CBSA agents arrested Torralba at a Vancouver residence last week after a tip from the U.S. Marshals office. He came into Canada by car in August, before criminal charges had been laid.

Torralba was denied release at a detention hearing Monday of the Immigration and Refugee Tribunal. His admissibility hearing to stay in Canada is set for next Monday.

As for Deicas, she is eager to see her grandmother’s former caregiver brought home.

“I definitely would love him to be extradited to the U.S. — and I look forward to him facing charges that he's accused of in the U.S.”

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