A group of bills aimed at combating elderly abuse have been introduced in the Tennessee Legislature.
If the bills become law, they would create tougher penalties for people who commit crimes against elderly or vulnerable adults.
The legislation would protect seniors from physical, mental and financial abuse. The bills would also allow banks to freeze accounts or stop a transaction if a scam is suspected or if they believe someone is preying on an elderly person.
Investigators in Rhea County recently arrested a man for abusing and neglecting his elderly parents.
Detective Rocky Potter says investigators were called to a mobile home park where the man dropped off his parents and left them alone for several days.
“There was an empty trailer in this mobile home park. He brought his parents and told them that he was going to rent the trailer and led the mobile home park owner to believe he would be back with the rent,” Detective Potter told Channel 3.
But investigators say the son, Matthew Savage Jr., never came back. His parents were left with no care, no medicine and nothing to eat.
“They just stayed inside the trailer for a few days with no power, no food, no identification, no government identification, food stamps, they didn't have anything,” Detective Potter told Channel 3.
Savage is charged with two felony counts of vulnerable adult abuse and neglect.
Investigators learned of the incident when neighbors alerted authorities through the state’s new abuse hotline.
A law went into effect last month that requires all Tennessee district attorneys to establish a “Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigative Team” or “VAPIT” to coordinate investigation of abuse cases and provide outreach for victims.
If the proposed bills become law, investigators would have a new weapon in the battle against elderly abuse.