AZ woman accused of abusing her uncle pleads not guilty
Tara Bergland-Hugo Rothlisberg
SUN CITY, AZ (CBS5) -
A woman accused of handcuffing her elderly uncle to a soiled bed while he was wearing a full diaper pleaded not guilty to abuse charges on Monday.
Tara Bergland-Hugo Rothlisberg, 56, will have her next court hearing Aug. 16.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Rothlisberg May 31 after a solar panel installer arrived at the home and noticed an unlocked door and smelled a foul odor.
"I rang the doorbell and nobody answered. It was at that time I got a smell of the fecal matter and urine that was inside the house," Chris Van Raalte said.
Deputies entered the home and found Rothlisberg's 87-year-old uncle underweight, malnourished and handcuffed to a bed.
The man was wearing an adult diaper that had not been changed in a long time and the sheets were also soiled, deputies said.
Authorities said the home was filled with trash and animal feces from nine cats and four dogs living inside. The temperature reached more than 90 degrees in all rooms except the Rothlisberg's bedroom, which was the only room with a working air conditioner
Rothlisberg, who was her uncle's power of attorney and responsible for his car, returned home while deputies were still in the home. She admitted to handcuffing her uncle because he falls often, authorities said.
She told deputies that her 88-year-old mother, a retired nurse, suggested using the handcuffs.
Rothlisberg's 14-year-old daughter also lived in the home. She was turned over to Child Protective Services.
Rothlisberg was charged for two counts of elder and child abuse.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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