Federal police officers walk past the home "La Gran Familia" (The big family) in the western city of Zamora

Federal police officers walk past the home "La Gran Familia" (The big family) in the western city of Zamora (HENRY ROMERO,, Reuters / July 17, 2014)


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A controversial woman at the center of an abuse scandal at a children's home in western Mexico has been set free after a preliminary probe cleared her of wrongdoing, a spokesman for the attorney general's office said on Sunday.

Mexican police raided the refuge known as "La Gran Familia" (The Big Family) in the state of Michoacan on Tuesday, finding around 450 kids in squalid rooms filled with trash and cockroaches.

Rosa Verduzco, 79, who ran the home, was detained and questioned on suspicion of willful deprivation of liberty and abuse at the vermin-infested home where rape, hunger and beatings were a part of daily life, according to victims.

But late on Saturday, Verduzco, who had been hospitalized, was freed, according to a spokesman for the attorney general's office who said statements from victims suggested she wasn't involved in the abuse.

Six workers at the home have been transferred to a prison in the state of Nayarit, facing criminal accusations, the spokesman added.

A divisive figure, Rosa Verduzco was seen as a saint by many for dedicating her life to raising and helping thousands of children abandoned by their own parents.

But victims told Reuters she presided over years of neglect and abused the child residents, while parents complained she refused to let them take back their children in her care.


(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Andrea Ricci)