NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - New numbers about crimes or abuse against vulnerable adults are surprising people who deal with crime every day.
Tennessee started a program two years ago to help track suspected crimes or abuse involving vulnerable adults who may be victims of neglect, abuse or financial crimes.
“From the first of January of this year to May 31st, there were 536 cases that I examined,” said Brittini Flatt, an assistant district attorney in Davidson County who works these type cases.
A team meets monthly to review cases, referring possible crimes for prosecution or helping connect vulnerable adults to services.
Flatt couldn’t talk about specific cases, but they could involve the types of cases that News4 has investigated in the past.
One of the News4 I-Team’s investigation involved John Clemmons, an attorney trusted to handle his elderly client’s estates.
Instead he stole their money, hundreds of thousands from Nannie Malone.
Malone’s daughter was told there was no money left for her mother’s cancer treatments.
“My mother suffered a lot. I just want justice,” Teresa Lyle told News4 in 2013.
Clemmons eventually went to prison.
Crimes against the elderly and vulnerable could also involve cases of abuse or neglect. The suspects could be caregivers or institutions who failed to provide proper care, as in a criminal case involving the management and owners of Autumn Hills Assisted Living in Bordeaux.
The District Attorney’s office said everyone can help protect the elderly by watching for signs of something unusual, like bruises, cuts or signs of malnourishment or suspicions that someone is not getting the medicine they need.
“Watch for any types of illnesses or injuries that are not being treated that should be treated,” said Flatt.
The district attorney’s office also warns people to watch for signs of financial crime.
“If it’s a family member, watch out for the bank accounts,” said Flatt.
Reporting Abuse: Who You Should Tell
Emergencies: Always call 911.
Adult Protective Services: 1-888-APS-TENN or 1-888-277-8366
You can also report online to Tennessee Adult Protective Services, using a form provided by the Department of Human Services. Additionally, if you have suspicions or want to verify that a person isn't already on record, visit the Tennessee Department of Health's Abuse Registry to search by name or social security number.
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