Father, caregiver stand trial for abuse
“Who will speak for Tracy?”
That was the stark, simple question Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Katie
Francis asked a jury Wednesday morning.
“Tracy does not speak,” Francis told the jury of nine women and three men.
Tracy Gamache has cerebral palsy and is severely physically and mentally handicapped. She is the alleged victim in charges filed against her father, Raymond
Gamache Jr., and her caregiver, Dawn Renee Anderson.
The now-26-year-old was born disabled, the result of the chromium pollution in Hinkley, Calif., made famous by the movie, “Erin Brockovich,” Francis said.
And now, Francis argued, she has been victimized again by the people on whom she was totally dependent for care.
Raymond Gamache and Anderson were arrested after Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a welfare check at their trailer home in Penn Valley on March 24, 2009.
They were acting on an anonymous tip that Tracy Gamache was being physically abused and neglected by her father and had been tied up in the past while the father left the residence to go to a casino, Sheriff Keith Royal said at the time of the arrests.
Tracy Gamache allegedly was sitting in a chair outside, unattended. Deputies found the living conditions inside the trailer where the trio were living to be “deplorable.”
Tracy was “emaciated and filthy” and was wearing soiled clothing, Francis said.
The 5-foot-6-inch woman, who once weighed 180 pounds, was only 98 pounds, was severely dehydrated and had bruising around her eyes when she was admitted to the hospital, Francis said.
The prosecutor acknowledged that Tracy Gamache had behavioral issues and was a “biter,” but noted she had bite marks on her back that could not have been self-inflicted.
“Who speaks for Tracy?” Francis asked again. “I’m asking you to find your voice and find both defendants guilty.”
Raymond Gamache and Anderson both face charges of dependent adult abuse likely to cause great bodily harm. Raymond Gamache is being represented by deputy public defender Tamara Zuromskis and Anderson by deputy public defender Jennifer Walters.
Zuromskis called the allegations of neglect and abuse “nonsense,” charging that Tracy’s mother abandoned her, and that her father made the best of a difficult situation.
She told the jury that Tracy Gamache had a host of behavioral issues, including “compulsive” self-biting and head-banging, as well as disrobing in public and “sliming” people with mucus or saliva.
“Tracy did live in conditions that were less than ideal, but they did the best they could,” Zuromskis said, adding the living situation in the trailer was a temporary one.
Anderson teared up as her attorney, Walters, told the jury that she loved Tracy Gamache and liked to do “girlie stuff” with her.
Much of Wednesday’s testimony was provided by Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Dominic Lafountain, who conducted the welfare check, and by the emergency room physician at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital that day.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.
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