Belmont torture case heads toward trial after court hearing


REDWOOD CITY — Criminal charges against a man accused of torturing an elderly woman through sexual, financial and psychological exploitation, and holding her captive in a hotel room for most of the pandemic, will head toward trial after a key court hearing last week.

Ian Edard Kroe, 56, of Oakland, was held to answer in a San Mateo County court for 14 charges encompassing allegations of torture, rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment, criminal threats, and elder abuse and theft. Judge Kevin Dunleavy made the ruling Friday at the end of a repeatedly delayed preliminary hearing, in which a judge decides whether a case has enough evidence to proceed to trial.

According to police and prosecutors, Kroe’s mother was longtime friends with the reported victim — a 74-year-old woman, who the Bay Area News Group is calling Jane Doe due to her being a victim of alleged sexual assault. After his mother passed in 2016, Doe reached out to him to express sympathy.

The two became friends, and in the next few years, Kroe relocated from Minnesota to be closer to Doe. But authorities allege that what followed rapidly became a nightmare.

Once Kroe moved to the Peninsula, he is accused of assuming command of Doe’s finances and emptying her bank accounts. The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office contends that Kroe held Doe “virtually as a prisoner” at the Hyatt House hotel complex in Belmont between April 2020 and August 2022 by threatening to kill and torture her if she tried to leave to her home in New Mexico.

That time period included an eight-month stretch in which she was entirely confined to the hotel room. Prosecutors said when Doe broke her ankle at some point in 2021, Kroe did not allow her to seek medical help.

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