A woman accused of forcing two developmentally disabled people who lived at her home to spend long days outside and work without pay has been found not guilty.
Pamela Rasley was charged with two counts of vulnerable adult abuse. The trial was held in the courtroom of Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley.
“Mrs. Rasley is someone who is in her 60s, who has diabetes and is confined to a wheelchair,” Rasley’s attorney, Jordan Cohen, said to jurors on Thursday in Pima County Superior Court. “You have heard no evidence whatsoever that they (the victims) were unable to protect themselves.”
The Arizona Daily Star has chosen not to identify the victims in this case.
Rasley, 62, was originally charged and brought to trial along with her husband, Edgar Rasley.
Pamela Rasley was not present for the trial because of her health.
The Attorney General’s Office dropped the charges against Edgar Rasley in midtrial Thursday, however, after testimony from both victims pointed only to his wife.
Under direct and cross-examination, the female victim said it was Pamela Rasley who forced her to remain outside of the Rasleys’ mobile home, in the 8500 block of South Van Buren Avenue, where they lived.
The woman said she was made to do yardwork on a daily basis and had to drink from a garden hose if she was thirsty.
Neighbors of the Rasleys called police in 2012 after noticing the victims outside frequently.
Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jesse Delaney questioned the woman about what she did if she needed to go inside the Rasleys’ house during the days.
“I knocked, but they wouldn’t let me in,” she said.
She also testified that she was forced to eat and use the bathroom outside.
Cohen disputed the claims, noting testimony from a caseworker for a disabled person who formerly lived with Rasleys as well who said she had seen the victims inside the home often.
The witness, who once was a caseworker for the victim as well, said the victim had to be spoken to at her previous home about urinating outside.
Cohen argued that the victims were never forced to do anything and were free to leave whenever they chose to. He noted that the male victim worked a full-time job.
“The state has completely failed to meet their burden,” Cohen said.
The victims came to live with the Rasleys after the woman they were living with died. They initially intended to stay only a short time but remained for nearly two years.
The victims now live in their own apartment.
Delaney said that despite the loss at trial, the outcome for the victims was still positive because they no longer live with the Rasleys and are safe from any possible harm.