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.