Monday, February 5, 2007

County commissioner backs move to establish Cowlitz Vulnerable Adult Task Force

County commissioner backs move to establish Cowlitz , Longview Washington Vulnerable Adult Task Force By Amy M. E. Fischer Feb 03, 2007 - 11:57:39 pm PST

In her role as a trust officer for Cowlitz Bank, Flohr has seen disturbing cases of financial exploitation, abuse and abandonment of elderly and/or vulnerable adults --- but little in the way of prosecution. If agencies that deal with such victims communicated, pooled resources and learned more about elder abuse laws, perpetrators of such crimes against vulnerable adults might be brought to justice, she said.

About 95 percent of the cases Dimitrov sees involve family members who illegally use power of attorney and quitclaim deeds to plunder the assets of vulnerable elderly relatives, she said. The formerly financially secure victims are often left penniless and reliant on state-provided services, she said.

"This is not uncommon," she said Thursday. "This stuff is happening all over the place." Cases that are reported often aren't prosecuted because police and prosecuting attorneys historically have viewed them as civil matters, Dimitrov said.

"It's going to be such a huge issue in years to come," she said. "We're like 30 years behind child abuse and 20 years behind domestic violence. People don't want to recognize it. They don't want to hear about it. ... Sometimes it just takes a long time before it permeates the psyches and people say, 'Oh, wow, that really does happen.' "

"A lot of time it was a senior citizen population calling us for help," Swanson said Thursday. "We saw lots of people get taken for lots of money. It's so sad."

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