New Coalition Fighting Elder Abuse in Albemarle County Area
Press event by the Jefferson Area Coalition to End Elder Abuse at the Senior Center.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -
A new, multi-jurisdictional initiative to fight elder abuse is underway in the Albemarle County area.
Officials, advocacy groups, and authorities have created the Jefferson Area Coalition to End Elder Abuse (JACEEA).
The new coalition was introduced Wednesday morning at the Senior Center along Pepsi Place.
"We are here for you. We are here for you because we care about you. We know crimes are being committed against you," said attorney Doris Gelbman.
Gelbman is among law enforcement agencies, commonwealth's attorneys, advocacy groups, and even financial institutions who are all working to identify and prosecute cases of elder abuse.
JACEEA’s goal is to enhance communication and cooperation between the coalition's partners to better identify and prosecute these cases.
"Everyone recognizes the prevalence of elder abuse. There's also recognition that there's the lack of a mechanism to coordinate efforts to combat it. And that's the purpose of this coalition," said Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci.
In 2014, there were approximately 12,000 cases of abuse reported to Adult Protection Services in Virginia.
"The problem of elder abuse is not limited to one social, economic, racial or ethnic background. Any senior can become a victim of elder abuse at some point in their lives," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Huber.
Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, and even financial - which is one of the most common forms.
Gelbman recalled one case in which a man had $50,000 stolen from him by his own cousin.
"It hits me right in the heart when that happens," she said.
“We must commit resources to educating our elder population, and those who care for them, about the risk they may be exposed to," Huber sad.
The coalition said they had met informally a few times before Wednesday's announcement, and they have already seen results. They expect to be in communication every day to deal with new cases.