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ABUSE & EXPLOITATION OF ELDERS
Law Enforcement Authorities report a spike in elder abuse reports for physical violence during the coronavirus pandemic, as quarantine conditions created "a perfect storm" for elder abuse.
August 21, 2020
JACKSON, Tenn. — General District Attorney Matthew Stowe of Judicial District 24 of Tennessee is discussing the ways you can identify elder abuse. Stowe says the most common types of abuse are financial, physical and neglect.
One way that you can spot signs of financial abuse are scams that are aimed at seniors. This means don’t send your information to someone you don’t know.
Signs of physical abuse is what you can imagine: bruises and bumps and changes in behavior. Stowe say elderly abuse is a lot more common than what we think it is.
“Someone who is normally outgoing, has become withdrawn; or someone who normally spends time with family is now no longer spending time with family. Then you know it’s elder abuse,” Stowe said.
Stowe says some of the signs of self-neglect are changes in a person’s weight or when the person doesn’t do activities they once did.
“You can tell sometimes like you usually see someone attending church, and all of sudden they are no longer attending church,” Stowe said.
With COVID-19 restrictions, Stowe says he believes it is a lot harder to find signs of abuse.
“One of ways it’s costing us is our usual people who would catch it: doctors, our nurses, our preachers, are not having that contact with the elderly to be able to see those signs,” Stowe said.
Other types of abuse are emotional and mental.
“[That was] one of things we’ve focused on when we passed our recent overhaul of Tennessee Elder Abuse laws. I was proud to be a part of a three-year process of passing laws that expanded and provided for more significant punishment for people who abuse the elderly,” Stowe said. “And one of the things we have focused on the most is emotional abuse; and that can be actionable now. We are going to go back to the legislature this year and try to get them to cover even more forms of emotional abuse.”
“The biggest hole in the wall right now [in current law] is that people can emotionally abuse someone to the point that they feel like a prisoner in their own home,” Stowe said.
Stowe says if a loved one tells you something happened to them, it is important to take it seriously. Take any reports of elder abuse very seriously.
“So, if you hear someone from the greatest generation complaining about something, it’s probably a lot worse than they are making it out to be,” Stowe said.
If you would like to learn more about what signs you should look for, visit the Seen on 7 section of the website.
You can also contact Adult Protective Services at 1-888-APS-TENN to report any cases of abuse.
May 28, 2020
Huntingdon, TN - Tennessee’s Elder Abuse Law continues to prove its value with another financial abuse conviction. Robert McCoy, age 49, of Decaturville, TN pled guilty in Decatur County Circuit Court on Tuesday, May 26th to two counts of financial exploitation of elder adults.
McCoy was arrested after a traffic stop led to the discovery of a cache of credit cards, ID cards, ATM cards, bank checks and other documents in his possession. An investigation headed by Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division (THP-CID) uncovered more materials at McCoy’s home, and surveillance videos from area businesses caught McCoy using the stolen identities.
“It is my hope that more convictions such as this will send a strong message that crimes perpetrated on our most vulnerable citizens are considered much more heinous and will be treated with harsher punishments,” states District Attorney Matthew Stowe.
McCoy was indicted with 54 counts, including identity theft, criminal simulation, theft, forgery, and financial exploitation of elders. Due to the recent updates in Tennessee law, abuses to elderly and vulnerable adults are now classified as higher-level felonies carrying harsher penalties. The total amount of theft and multiple stolen identity charges resulted in B Class felony charges for McCoy.
“This case has been successfully prosecuted due to the outstanding work of THP-CID’s Investigator Joe Hudgins, Sr.,” states Assistant District Attorney K. Michelle Morris. “Cooperation between local law enforcement and THP has been outstanding. Their efforts were extraordinary, resulting justice for the victims.”
Judge C. Creed McGinley accepted a plea deal which includes two sentences of eight years imprisonment with T.D.O.C. to run concurrent, full restitution to and no contact with all victims, and listed on Tennessee’s elderly abuse registry for life.
“It is results like this that make the hard work and many hours of recrafting Tennessee’s statute worth the effort,” says District Attorney Matthew Stowe, who has led the effort of Tennessee’s D.A.s in securing stronger legislation. “I commend the Decaturville Police and THP-CID in their excellent work in this case.”
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Do you need to report suspected abuse, neglect, or self-neglect of a vulnerable or elderly adult? Call: Toll Free 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) Or, report suspected abuse online at our secure site: https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/
All reports are confidential and can remain anonymous.