Ojai Woman Accused Of Elder & Animal Abuse

Tuesday March 19, 2019

     The Ventura County Sheriff's Department has accused an Ojai woman of felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal abuse.

    They allege that 65-year-old Catherine Ann Vandermaesen kept her 96-year-old father "in conditions not fit for human living and willfully caused or permitted the health of her elderly father to suffer under the living conditions noted on scene."

   Deputies and a host of public agencies and organizations showed up at the house in the 1200 block of Gregory Street in Ojai March 14th and said they could smell the urine 20 feet from the residence.

   They allege that in addition to and adding to the unfit living conditions for her father and 74-year-old sister, deputies found eight dogs, two rabbits, one cat, one African Grey parrot, and 55 wild rats.

   Deputies also say an estimated 200-700 more wild rats were still loose and residing within the two bedroom dwelling, the walls, garage, and garbage located throughout the residence.

   The Humane Society removed and cared for the animals.

   The city of Ojai "yellow taged" the residence due to what they called the unlivable and dangerous conditions.

   Vandermaesen's father was taken to the hospital and is now in the custody of Adult Protective Services while her sister was taken to the hospital and is also being helped by Adult Protective Services.

   Vandermaesen was arrested for felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal abuse.

   She has since posted bail and has been released from jail.

   She is due in court April 2nd.

   The Sheriff's Department says this whole incident began with a request that deputies check the wellbeing of the people living in that house.

   On their initial visit on March 13th, they say Vandermaesen and her sister would not let them into the house and insisted everything was OK.

   When deputies asked to see their father, the sisters said they would bring him out in a wheelchair but still did not want deputies in the house.

   The next day deputies, along with that host of agencies and organizations, returned to the house and made the discoveries described above.