A woman has claimed that an Ancestry DNA test has revealed that her father was an employee at a New York disability care center who raped her mother when she was a patient.

Maggie Cruz, 37, filed a lawsuit against in New York Supreme Court on Monday, alleging that Monroe Development Center (MDC) failed to protect her mentally disabled mother from the sexual assault that resulted in her giving birth to Cruz in 1986.

The suit — which was filed against the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities — claimed that Cruz’s mother, identified only as “I.C.,” was born with “profound” developmental delays and has the “mental acuity of a two-year-old.”

She was raped in 1985, at age 30, while a resident at MDC, resulting in Cruz’s birth the following year. At the time of Cruz’s birth, the complaint explains, staff at MDC told her grandparents that their granddaughter was likely fathered by another patient, and that an investigation into the assault was ongoing.

But when Cruz, now a mother of five, filed a public records request in 2019, she was stunned to find no employee interviews or even a police report related to her mother’s rape.  

Instead, she found care notes detailing a series of unexplained injuries her mother suffered, including cuts and bruises, leading up to the time of her conception.

“MDC’s contemporaneous progress notes indicated no meaningful efforts to identify, let alone punish, the perpetrator(s) of numerous violent physical attacks on I.C. around the time her rapist impregnated her,” the complaint summarizes.

Also among her finds was Oct. 1985 note from a caretaker, “J.B.,” who wrote that Cruz’s mother “‘likes men of color, strips, sometime [sic] yells, jumps, eats very fast.’”

Then, in December that year, another staff member wrote that I.C. “has still been attacking James.”

Maggie Cruz investigated her own parentage using an Ancestry DNA kit.Ancestry.com

Cruz investigated her own family history via Ancestry.com. After submitting her genetic profile to the genealogy site, she was able to identify paternal relatives in Virginia.

When she looked one of the relatives up on Facebook, she was shocked by the photos of a woman with eyes very similar to her own. 

The girl’s father was named James, The Daily Beast reported. With further digging, Cruz learned that the man lived in Rochester, not far from MDC. The Brighton Police Department confirmed for her that the man worked at the facility in 1985.

Though Cruz believed that James was the person who raped her mother, police involvement was limited due to the statute of limitations. She worked with attorney Susan Crumiller to devise an alternative legal strategy until last May, when the New York Adult Survivor’s Act’s “lookback window” provided a new avenue for justice. 

“If Maggie hadn’t come to us and filed this lawsuit, no one ever would have known this happened,” Crumiller, a noted advocate for victims of sexual violence, told The Daily Beast.

“It’s as in the shadows as you can get.”

Cruz’s complaint also cites evidence of other sexual violence at MDC, including the accusation that at least 10 staff members from 1976 to 1985 were identified as pedophiles and rapists. 

In one disturbing incident, the claim says, a therapist was found in a 15-year-old patient’s bed.

“She’s motivated to help others. She’s motivated to expose the pattern, and stop the pattern,” Crumiller said of Cruz.

“We want people to see how common this is, and how institutions closed around abusers, and just how vigilant we need to be about protecting vulnerable people.”

Cruz’s mother, now 66, moved to another facility in Penfield nine years after Cruz was born. The complaint filed Monday says that Cruz’s “lifelong sadness turned to fury on her mother’s behalf.”

“My mother has had a hard life, and I hope this lawsuit will help her get the care that she deserves after OPWDD failed to protect her from her attacker 37 years ago,” she told The Daily Beast.

“I live a blessed life and I thank God for my amazingly supportive husband and five kids, who give me the strength to lead with compassion and grace every day.”

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities was founded in 1978 amid uproar about the squalid conditions at state-run care facilities. The office did not immediately return a request for a comment on Cruz’s lawsuit.

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