OXNARD : Experts Say Woman Is Not Deaf

A homeless mystery woman whom Oxnard shelter officials believed was deaf was revealed Thursday to have perfect hearing, but she has a mental age of 9, according to experts who examined her.

Officials at the Women's Lighthouse shelter said they still don't know who the young woman is or where she came from, but they were disappointed to learn that the woman was posing as a deaf person.

The revelation came from hearing tests that were ordered after the woman, whom shelter officials have named Lucy, jumped when a balloon popped behind her, said shelter Director Carol Roberg.

While an audiologist rated the woman's hearing as perfect by measuring her brain waves, a psychologist ruled that she has a childlike mind, limited reasoning and possibly dyslexia, Roberg said.

"I feel a bit discouraged," said Roberg, associate director of the Ventura County Rescue Mission, which runs the shelter.

"I said to her, 'Lucy, you've been putting us on (and) you've been making monkeys of us,' " Roberg said, explaining that she augmented her speech by imitating an ape. "She just cast her eyes downward and looked embarrassed. When I further tried to talk to her, she pretended she didn't understand--or she really didn't."

Also disappointed were officials at the local chapter of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness. A battery of deaf interpreters skilled in several languages spent days trying to decipher the woman's foreign hand signs.

"The signs don't mean anything," said Coleen Ashly, advocacy specialist for Tri-County GLAD. "Whether she's got some other processing problem or whether she's just faking, we have no way of knowing that."

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