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SAN FRANCISCO Elderly woman sues city, alleging lack of protection



Published: Sat, August 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman suffers from mild dementia, her attorney said.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

SAN FRANCISCO -- An 84-year-old woman whose San Francisco apartment was overrun by alleged gang members has filed a $900,000 claim against the city, charging that officials failed to protect and care for her.

The claim is a necessary first step before Ellen Gutierrez can file a lawsuit charging that the city's social-service system failed to look after her when she was put in the care of the Adult Protective Services agency.

Police said in May that Gutierrez had been living for several months in her apartment as a virtual prisoner of six reported members of the Sureno gang. Gutierrez was unharmed, but her apartment was filled with drugs and crack pipes, there was gang graffiti on the walls, and a gun was found in the bathroom, police said.

Charges

The alleged gang members were charged with a variety of offenses, including elder abuse and residential burglary.

It turned out that contract workers who looked in on Gutierrez for Adult Protective Services had seen signs that all was not right at the apartment, but it was months before they alerted police.

The incident prompted the Department of Human Services to re-examine how it oversees Adult Protective Services and its many contract providers. Mayor Gavin Newsom called for the city to hire 14 more social workers and to provide better training for contract workers.

Kathryn Stebner, an attorney representing Gutierrez, said that her client has mild dementia and that Adult Protective Services had failed to monitor her health and well-being closely.

Human Services Director Trent Rohrer could not be reached to comment. He has acknowledged that the city "didn't intervene soon enough" in the Gutierrez case.




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