Imperial Valley Press

Daughter unravels decades-old mystery of disabled mom’s rape


Magdalena Cruz grew up knowing she owed her very life to a horrid crime.

She was born in 1986 to a mom who couldn’t care for her, or for herself. For a decade, Cruz’s mother had been a resident of a state facility for severely disabled people in Rochester, New York. She was nonverbal.

She was 30 but had the mental acuity of a 2-yearold, wore diapers and needed constant care. She couldn’t consent to sex, so when she was discovered to be pregnant, it was obvious she must have been raped.

Facility administra­tors told the woman’s family another resident was likely responsibl­e and said they would file a police report and undertake an internal investigat­ion.

Nearly four decades later, Cruz says she has solved the mystery of her father’s identity herself, partly by using a mail-order DNA test and a popular genealogy database.

He was an employee of the facility, not a resident, according to a lawsuit she filed this week.

Moreover, Cruz also learned through her own sleuthing that no police report was ever filed, no employees were interviewe­d and no action was ever taken by administra­tors, the lawsuit said.

“The facts surroundin­g her birth were far more shocking and grotesque than her family had realized,” her lawyers wrote in the suit, filed against the Office for People with Developmen­tal Disabiliti­es, the state agency that oversees state-run facilities.

Criminal charges are no longer possible because of legal deadlines that long ago expired. The lawsuit was only possible because New York enacted a law last year temporaril­y setting aside the statute of limitation­s for litigation over sexual assaults from long ago.

Cruz’s search for her birth story began about four years ago. Her lawyers said she started by requesting records from municipali­ties and the state regarding her mother’s care. She received progress notes from her mother’s time at Monroe Developmen­tal Center, which revealed a series of injuries before and during the pregnancy — a bite mark on her breast, crossshape­d bruise on her shoulder blade, a 9-inch abrasion on her back, the lawsuit said.

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