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New York Man Is Indicted for Abusing His Elderly Mother

  • December 20th, 2002

In a rare case of a family member being charged with elder abuse, a man in Albany County, New York, has been indicted for allegedly mistreating his ailing 76-year-old mother, according to an article in the Albany Times-Union.

Kenneth Turner, 49, at various times allegedly took away his mother''s walker, threw her food on the floor, and struck her in the head with a hard plastic ice pack. Turner is being charged with endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person under a little-used 1998 New York statute for abuse committed by a caregiver. Under previous law Turner would have been charged with misdemeanor assault, but under the new statute he is charged with a felony and if convicted could face up to seven years in prison.

More than two-thirds of elder abuse perpetrators are family members of the victims, typically serving in a caregiving role and typically adult children, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. About half the states now have laws that provide penalties for the physical or emotional abuse or neglect of an elder or dependent adult.

New York's law has been successfully prosecuted only seven times since enactment. Part of the problem is that cases can be difficult to prove, said Bill Graham, an attorney for the state Office for the Aging. "The elderly person will often refuse to testify because they are looking at someone who is very often a loved one, an offspring, son or daughter, sometimes a niece or nephew. And despite what they''ve been through, they don''t want to see that individual go to jail," Graham said.

"A lot of these cases involve family members, but if no one is supervising or helping out, who is going to tell?" said Cora Alsante, a Syracuse attorney and chair of the elder law section of the State Bar Association.

Michael Burgess, head of the New York Statewide Senior Action Council, said that as the population ages, courts can expect more such cases.

To read the full Times-Union article, click here. (Article may be only temporarily available.)

For more on elder abuse, click here.

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Last Modified: 12/20/2002

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