Crime

Rochester residents accused of abusing disabled woman

Three Rochester residents have been arrested for allegedly beating and starving their mentally disabled roommate.

Brandon A. Aquino, Yolanda L. Whitten and Robert J. Whitten were arrested Friday, and are being held in the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault and second-degree criminal mistreatment. At a Monday court hearing, bail was set at $40,000 for Aquino and Yolanda Whitten, and $25,000 for Robert Whitten.

Thurston County Sheriff’s deputies began investigating the suspects March 20 after a neighbor reported seeing the victim being hit repeatedly in a Rochester backyard. Adult Protective Services contacted the victim, a 58-year-old woman with mental disabilities, who confirmed that she had been abused, according to court documents.

When a deputy arrived at the home, he noticed that the victim had two black eyes, bruising around her nose and was wearing a neck brace.

The deputy talked to Yolanda Whitten, who said that she lived in the home with her husband, Robert Whitten, and her brother, Aquino. The victim and Aquino had been in a relationship, and she continued living in the home after the couple broke up.

Yolanda Whitman said it had become difficult to care for the victim, and that they had resorted to punishing her by spanking her or making her stand in the corner, according to court documents. She also said that they prevented the victim from taking her medications because they believed the medicine would kill her.

The victim was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, where the deputy talked to her about the abuse. She told him she had lived in the home for at least a year, according to court documents.

The woman said she was wearing the neck brace because Aquino had grabbed her by the throat and slammed her into a wall so hard that a bone in her neck popped out. She said her roommates pushed the bone back in and gave her a neck brace.

When asked about the black eyes, she said her roommates made her stand in the corner when they believed she wasn’t “acting like an adult.” When she moved, they slammed her face into the wall. She also had bruising on her buttocks consistent with being hit with a wooden paddle.

Providence staff discovered that the victim had a broken nose as well as a broken neck, and she was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She underwent surgery to fix the broken vertebrae, according to court documents.

At Harborview, staff reported that the victim also was extremely malnourished.

The victim told the deputy that all three of her roommates had participated in the abuse.

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