Abuse

Sexual Assault of Aging Victim Draws Attention to Elder Abuse

After reporting on the sexual assault of an 80-year-old woman in an unnamed Memphis nursing facility, WREG is providing information on signs and reporting of elder abuse. According to Sandy Bromley with the Shelby County Crime Victims Center and Rape Crisis Center, sexual assaults involving seniors are rare, however, family members should always be aware of suspicious injuries, bruises or unexplained maladies like urinary tract infections. The victim in this most recent case was taken to Methodist Hospital by family members after they noticed changes in her behavior, where the hospital performed a rape assessment and determined that she had been sexually assaulted. No charges have yet been filed regarding the incident.

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Lawmaker Seeks Change for Horse Safety

A case of animal neglect in Maury County has sparked questions from a Tennessee lawmaker about how horses are treated under current laws, according to Fox 17. Rep. Johnny Shaw, D–Bolivar, who sits on the agriculture committee, maintains that current law makes it very difficult for rescuers to save abused horses, because of their consideration as livestock and not extending them the same protections as pets and household animals. Shaw has offered the resources of his office — reachable at 615-741-4538; rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.gov — for anyone who would like to comment on this issue.

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Legislative Candidate's Business Raided Due to Allegations of Elder Abuse

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and local police last Thursday raided an assisted living facility in Cookeville that is partially owned by Republican legislative candidate Ed Butler, the Nashville Post reports. The raid stems from allegations of possible abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly residents of the home, according to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway. This is not the first time the facility, Senior Lifestyles, has been the subject of legal controversy. The home — known as Living the Dream at the time — made headlines when its prior executive director pleaded guilty to embezzling upwards to $1 million.

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Oregon Lawsuit Argues Animals Have the Right to Sue Their Abusers

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a legal advocacy organization for animals, has filed a negligence suit in Oregon on behalf of a horse named Justice according to a press release from the organization. Justice was allegedly denied adequate food and shelter for months, leaving him “debilitated and emaciated,” suffering from lice, a prolapsed penis from frostbite and a bacterial skin infection known as rain rot when he was rescued in March 2017.
 
The complaint contends that Oregon Legislature has declared that animals “are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear,” and as such, are beneficiaries of Oregon welfare laws and are victims when the laws are violated. Justice’s abuser pled guilty to criminal animal neglect in 2017, agreeing to pay restitution only for the cost of Justice’s care prior to July 2017, however, the lawsuit seeks damages for Justice’s care since this date and going forward. Any funds awarded to Justice through the lawsuit would be placed in a legal trust established to pay for his care.
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Children of Legendary Entertainers Push Elder Abuse Legislation

The children of Casey Kasem, Mickey Rooney and Glen Campbell were joined by supporters to address the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, promoting legislation protecting rights of adult children aimed at preventing elder abuse according to The Detroit News. Kerri Kasem, Kelly Rooney and Travis Campbell advised the committee on the stories surrounding the final years of their parents' lives and how this legislation might have prevented the abuse and exploitation they suffered.
 
Kerri Kasem was involved in several contentious court battles against her stepmother, Jean Thompson Kasem, for the right to see her father, the "American Top 40" host who died in 2014 of complications of Lewy Body Dementia. Since the death of her father, Kasem has made it a priority to guarantee that family members can visit ill or incompetent relatives through measures such as those being considered in Michigan. "What it would allow the judge to do is to just rule on visitation. It would put the burden of proof on the caretaker," said Kasem. "If they're not allowing visitation, they have to prove why instead of hearsay."
 
Travis Campbell said he was limited in his ability to see his father when the musician began experiencing his decline into Alzheimer's disease. Campbell had concerns about his father's health due to the 151 shows the musician was made to perform over three years, even though the entertainer felt he could not perform that many concerts. Travis was instrumental in getting lawmakers in Tennessee to pass the "Falk Act" in 2016. He said toward the end of his father's life, he was only allowed to see him for four hours twice a month. "(The bill) is not just for us, it's for everybody," said Campbell.
 
Kelly Rooney describes her isolation from her father as "slow ... gradual." Rooney maintains that her father had complained of emotional and other forms of abuse prior to his death in 2014. She became emotional when speaking about not seeing her dad for nearly two years before he died. "They withheld medication and withheld food from him," Rooney said of her father's caretakers.
 
The group, along with the Kasem Cares Foundation, plan to continue the mission in hopes that more states adopt similar legislation to protect vulnerable seniors.
 
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Proposed Legislation Targeting Animal Abuse

Since the inception of the state's Animal Abuser Registration Act in 2015, Tennessee continues the mission to address prevailing concerns in defense of animals. Lawmakers have further taken aim at animal abuse, with several bills addressing areas of importance to advocates. Here is some noteworthy legislation to keep an eye on this year.
 
HB1713/SB1698 Expands the requirement that sellers of dogs and cats be licensed to include sellers who sell to individuals and not just sellers who sell at flea markets, who sell for resale, or who sell for research purposes; establishes application and renewal fees of $125 for sellers of dogs and cats who sell to individuals. Amends TCA Title 44, Chapter 17, Part 1.
 
HB1909/SB1689 Applies the criminal offense of animal cruelty to the restraint of a dog with a chain, cord, tether, cable, or similar device while a disaster is imminent or occurring. Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 44, Chapter 17.
 
HB0265/SB0282 Requires registration with the department to operate as a commercial dog breeder; creates inspection requirements for commercial dog breeders; creates Class A misdemeanor offense for a person to knowingly operate as a commercial dog breeder without being registered. Amends TCA Title 62.
 
HB0635/SB0624 Increases from 90 to 100 days the length of time that a licensed dog and cat dealer must wait before applying for reinstatement of the dealer's license following suspension. Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 14, Part 2; Title 40, Chapter 39, Part 1; Title 44; Title 47, Chapter 18; Title 56 and Title 63, Chapter 12.
 
HB1581/SB1704 Expands the list of animals recognized as state pets to include any animal adopted from an animal shelter or rescue facility instead of only dogs and cats so adopted. Amends TCA Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3.
 
HB2288/SB2154 Changes licensing classification from veterinary technician to veterinary nurse. Amends TCA Title 38, Chapter 1; Title 44, Chapter 17 and Title 63, Chapter 12.
 
Click here for up-to-date progress on each.
 
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