Monday, October 12, 2009

Experts Heartened

During the long months of testimony in the Astor trial, as the courtroom emptied of spectators and the headlines shrunk, prosecutors and other professionals involved in elder abuse cases were still paying close attention. In fact, some were biting their fingernails, especially as the jury’s deliberations grew heated and stretched to 12 days.

“I’ve been very worried about it,” confessed Lori Stiegel, senior attorney at the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging. If the prosecutors, including the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s pioneering elder abuse unit, had failed to win a conviction, she said, “it could have been perceived as reinforcing the notion that these cases are just too difficult to bring and that juries will have trouble understanding the issues.”

Financial exploitation robs the elderly of an estimated $2.6 billion (PDF) each year, according to a study published earlier this year by the Metlife Mature Market Institute, Virginia Tech and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Like all forms of elder abuse and neglect, the crime is believed to be substantially underreported.

And it’s particularly tough to prosecute. When adult protective services caseworkers suspect financial abuse and approach prosecutors, “they routinely get rebuffed,” Mr. Hafemeister said. “The prosecutors say they’re too difficult to try.”

“The percentage of these cases that occur within families is very high, about 90 percent,” said Joy Solomon, a former prosecutor, now director of the first shelter for elder abuse victims at the Hebrew Home in the Bronx. “You may have a victim who doesn’t want to involve the criminal justice system” in what’s seen as a family problem.

The Astor verdict, Ms. Solomon continued, is “a win for those of us in the criminal justice world trying to support prosecutions of these cases.”

Full Article and Source:
Abuse Experts Heartened by Astor Verdict

See Also:
Astor's Son Found Guilty


Anonymous said...

In our financial exploitation case when we went to the local District Attorney with the proof and evidence of embezzlement, he told us it was a "family matter" to sue the perp in civil court.

He also warned us not to bother him again.

How many cases are turned away at the local level leaving the complainants no where to go and another case goes unreported, not included in the statistics?

Anonymous said...

The experts are heartened because this case involved family theft.

They can now point at the Astor case to rationalize their existence. I can see it now -- families steal; the court has to protect the ward, so the court appropriately appoints a third party....

What they're not saying in this article is that the largest category of thieves is not the family - it's the professionals (lawyers, financial advisors, etc.)

Joy Soloman needs to read the Metlife report.

Anonymous said...

I thought that putting an 80 year old man on the stand was a disgrace to the legal system. The government has no business butting into family squabbles, and never do unless there is a ton of money to be made by them for doing so. I think it was all of the legal profession who exploited this family. Next, they will go after HIS trust fund.

Agree said...

I agree with Anon 3, putting a 85 year old man in jail is senseless and cruel.

Kit said...

Watch the law blogs and websites now putting the Astor case up on top billing. They will milk this one till the cows come home.

They love a good old fashioned family fight and will use it to bolster their "need".

Mark said...

I think alot of the sensationalism of the Astor case was fed by the attorneys, knowing if they get a conviction, it will make them look good --- as protectors.

Which they are not.

jerri said...

a lot of this is political too go after the big fat rich guys that many people love to hate and you get press and media big public interest the whole banana statistics are manipulated to give the answer the source wants to release and everyone goes ooooowee aaaaah see that hee haw they got the old rich guy with the greedy wife of course jr sort of dug his own hole too

Anonymous said...

I don't think Mrs. Astor would agree with the "experts" take here either.