Photo: "La Gran Familia" shelter
The Mexican agency attending to children who were rescued last month from a squalid shelter in the western state of Michoacan called on prosecutors to investigate reports that four of the minors committed suicide in recent weeks.
Other victims of the “La Gran Familia” shelter, taken over by the government amid sexual and physical abuse allegations, “tell us that four children committed suicide,” Julio Hernandez Barros, an attorney and member of the government’s Executive Commission on Victim Attention, or CEAV, told Efe.
The information is unconfirmed but the federal Attorney General’s Office has been notified so it can investigate these “regrettable” deaths, Hernandez said.
The president of the “Y Quien Habla por Mi” (And Who Speaks for Me) foundation, Maria Ampudia, told MVS radio that the most recent suicide was that of an 11-year-old boy who hanged himself after discovering he had contracted HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, after being raped at the shelter, located in the city of Zamora.
That minor was scheduled to travel with other victims to the offices of the CEAV in Mexico City to denounce the abuse suffered at the shelter, which was founded by Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, a 79-year-old woman popularly known as “Mama Rosa.”
Hernandez said the CEAV has thus far gathered statements from around 450 victims at the shelter, where nearly 500 minors and more than 100 adults were rescued when authorities raided the filthy home on July 15.
“An enormous amount of abuse” occurred at the group home, ranging from sexual assault to labor exploitation and prostitution, according to Hernandez, who added that some children suffered burns or had “obligatory tattoos as if they were in a World War II ghetto.”
Six workers at the shelter, including teachers and supervisors, have been jailed on charges of abduction, criminal association and human trafficking.
The shelter’s elderly director is not facing charges due to her poor physical and mental health, although prosecutors said she is suspected of violating three federal laws.