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Senate Bill 1191 Seeks Protection for Elderly and Disabled Victims of Crime

When Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department learned of William Ente imprisoned and isolated in his Santa Maria, California home, the Department chose not to respond.  William, now twenty-five, was diagnosed with autism as a child.  He has largely been denied contact with the outside world since age seventeen.

Sergeant Richard Brittingham barked a hearty guffaw at the suggestion that deputies should protect William.  When Sergeant Brittingham controlled his laughter, he exclaimed:  

That would be a stretch beyond imagination! 

Tri-Counties Regional Center Admits Abuse of Disabled Man

Tri-Counties Regional Center (TCRC) in Santa Barbara County is under investigation for abuse of an autistic man who resided in multiple group homes managed by their vendors.  Complaints to Department of Developmental Services allege that William Ente (25) has been subject to false imprisonment and denied visitation and phone calls since 2010.  Under California law, preventing a dependent adult receiving visitors or phone calls constitutes isolation, which is a form of abuse.

Director Dr. Omar Noorzad responded that TCRC group homes isolated William at direction from William’s conservator, Dr. Ente.  Lompoc neurologist Dr. Philip Ente is William’s father and conservator.  Documents indicate that William’s step-mother, UC Santa Barbara graduate student Angela Ente, participated in isolating William. 

"Civil Death" of William Ente

In Santa Barbara County, California, Judge Timothy Staffel stripped eighteen-year-old William Ente of his civil rights.  William was not guilty of any crime.  He was not allowed to face his accusers or testify in his own defense.  No evidence was presented, and no testimony was heard.  Yet, Judge Staffel imposed what could be a life sentence.  With Judge Staffel’s conservatorship order, William entered into what many human rights advocates call a “civil death.”