Letter from California: Why a Cali couple may never hire a nanny again
Hiring a nanny can be an unpleasant task because so much is at stake. However, individuals and couples are often faced with deciding whether to allow someone, a stranger, to help care for their children. At the very least, it is a daunting task that comes with some risk.
A couple in Upland, Calif., a town just east of Los Angeles, made the decision to hire a nanny. Marcella and Ralph Bracamonte, who have three children, ages 11, 4, and 1, were no strangers to hiring outside help. They had done it successfully before without incident, according to Bracamonte, a stay-at-home mom who felt she needed some help in taking care of the kids.
In March, the couple placed an ad on Craigslist, seeking a live-in nanny in exchange for room and board. Diane Stretton, a seemingly sweet 64-year-old woman, answered the ad and was hired after the couple ran a background check on her.
According to Bracamonte’s, the newly hired nanny started out fine when she was hired. But once she gained the family’s trust, Stretton stopped working and stayed in her room.
That’s when it appears that the Bracamonte’s story took a page right out of a Hollywood movie, the 1992 drama-thriller, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” starring Rebecca De Mornay.
The premise of the movie was the hiring of a nanny to help with child care. The storyline, in part, written by Rob Hartill, reads as follows: “Peyton Flanders seemed to be the perfect nanny, but secretly she was out to wreck the lives of the family she was supposed to be helping…” While “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” was a fiction, the Bracamontes are living a real life drama of their own.
Marcella Bracamonte said she finally had to do something.
The woman said she fired the nanny June 6 and she refused to leave.
While the nanny claimed her rights and insisted that she be formally evicted, Bracamonte said she fired Stretton after she quit working about a month before.
Bracamonte further said that she had given Stretton a last chance letter to start working again but Stretton refused to sign it.
When asked why Stretton wouldn’t sign the letter, the couple said the nanny told them it was not legal Bracamonte claims Stretton then told her that she had stopped working because she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and couldn’t leave her room to help with the kids.
Left with no choice, the couple started legal proceedings to have Stretton removed from their home. Stretton was served with court documents and subsequently counter-sued the Bracamontes. A judge ruled in Stretton’s favor because the couple had not correctly completed the documents.
According to Bracamonte, Stretton is now threatening to sue the couple for wrongful dismissal of employment and elder abuse.
Additionally, Stretton has allegedly demanded that the couple stay out of their own residence between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The family responded by placing a bicycle lock on their refrigerator to restrict Stretton’s access to their food.
Upland Police Department’s, Lt. John Moore, confirmed that there is nothing that the police can do at this point because, “generally, once somebody has established residency, you have to go through a formal eviction process.” The eviction process could take months by all accounts.
It appears that Stretton is no stranger to the legal system according to Bracamonte’s statement to ABC News.
Stretton has reportedly been involved in 36 lawsuits which has placed her on California’s “Vexatious Litigant List” for abusing the legal system.
Research conducted on the Vexatious Litigant List shows three entries for a “D.G. Stretton and a Diane Gail Stretton” for the dates of 2/16/2006 and 10/7/2005 in the San Diego Superior Court.
Bracamonte has started a Facebook page where she posted what she hopes to gain out of all this. She said, “I want to push for a law that protects families in their home. If there are no lease or rental agreements then whoever you invite in your home for a period of time does not make them a resident!”
The Bracamontes may not have to wait too long before their nightmare is over. There are reports in the media that the “Nightmare nanny” who was homeless for nine years and sleeping in her car when she was hired through Craigslist, has now disappeared amid a furor over squatting of the Bracamonte home”.
The Bracamonte family may not want to breathe a sigh of relief just yet, however. According to the family, her belongings remain in the home and she was spotted sitting in her car in front of the police station recently.