A human rights organization has filed a request for precautionary measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, asking for protective measures for an elderly man in California, who is under a court authorized guardianship.
This request, the first ever of its kind, was filed this week by Ku’untik Human Rights Center, which is located in Chiapas, Mexico. The principals of the organization are Diego Cadenas Gordillo, an experienced human rights lawyer and his wife, human rights professor Karen Marie Ferroggiaro, who was born in California.
The request states that the elderly man, Leon Bridges, is in grave danger as he has been placed into the care of a grandson who has already misappropriated over $80,000 of the elderly man’s money. The hearing in which the guardianship was initiated was not attended by Leon Bridges. However, during the hearing Bridges’ attorney, Steven Grossmann, who was appointed by the court, suggested that Mr. Bridges might be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological disorder in which an individual, held in a hostage- type situation, begins to accommodate the needs and desires of his keeper.
The request provides documentation that the judge, David Cowan of Los Angeles Superior Court, was fully aware of the financial abuse by the grandson and appointed him as guardian anyway.
The request provides other supporting documents, including Government Accountability Office Reports as well as a report filed with the UN Convention on Torture earlier this year, which provide context and support to concerns that guardians are regularly misappropriating the finances of those they are pledged to protect, and also in many cases abusing their wards physically and medically, often resulting in death.
The request further states that Leon Bridges was taken against his will by the grandson and moved from Arizona to California, and that Mr. Bridges’ adult daughter has been refused the information as to his location.
This is the first time that a human rights petition has been filed in an international venue on behalf of an individual who is under a guardianship. Karen Ferroggiaro, speaking for Ku’untik, states that her organization is planning a mega-project concerning guardianship abuse and is soliciting reports from other adult guardianship victims in the US, in order to construct a petition with the IACHR asking that the Commission step in and stop the abuses of the elderly and disabled under guardianship.
“The legal system in the US provides no redress for these cases,” stated Ferroggiaro. “There is nowhere for these victims to go to get help.”
For further information, please contact Ku’untik at [email protected].