Sun City West resident Tara Rothlisberg will be on probation for a few years for her techniques as a "caregiver," which included keeping her elderly uncle chained to a bed.
That was only discovered after an employee of a solar-panel company went to the home for a scheduled appointment, and it smelled so bad from the outside that he thought an elderly person could have died inside the home.
That man called the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, and deputies searched the house, finding nine cats in one room, four dogs roaming around, and an elderly gentleman wearing nothing but a diaper, handcuffed to a bed.
Aside from being handcuffed, the man was also tied down with soft restraints, and was laying in his own feces, according to court documents previously obtained by New Times.
In addition to that, the man also appeared to be "very thin and malnourished," and was taken to a hospital. Rothlisberg showed up to the house during all this, and informed deputies that it was her uncle handcuffed to the bed.
Rothlisberg said she was the one who "cares" for her uncle, and when she showed up at her house at 12:30 p.m. yesterday, she mentioned that she'd left her uncle that way since the previous night, according to the documents. Rothlisberg said she bought the handcuffs online, and said she restrains him to the bed because "he gets out of bed and falls a lot."
She said she had no idea it would be against the law to tie someone to a bed, adding that her mother, a retired nurse -- whom she'd been driving around all morning -- actually suggested the idea.
When she left the house that morning, she left him handcuffed because "he wasn't awake yet, so [she] decided to leave him like that," according to the documents.
After adding in that her 14-year-old daughter lives at the house too, deputies confronted her about the animal poop all over the house. Rothlisberg said she didn't have time to clean the house because she was driving her mother around.
MCSO added that temperatures were higher than 90 degrees in every room of the house, except Rothlisberg, who had an air-conditioning unit in her bedroom.
Rothlisberg was booked into jail on both elderly abuse and child abuse charges, although she pleaded guilty to only the vulnerable-adult abuse charge.
She was sentenced yesterday to three years of probation, with mental-health terms, and is also prohibited from working as a "caregiver."
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