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Attorney General DeWine Announces Support for Ohio Elder Justice Act


(HAMILTON, Ohio) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined state representatives Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) and Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) and Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser today to announce support for House Bill 24, the Ohio Elder Justice Act.

The bill, which was introduced in January, has passed in the Ohio House of Representatives and is currently pending in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The goal of the Ohio Elder Justice Act is to strengthen existing Adult Protective Services laws by improving the response to elder abuse incidents and by encouraging the reporting of elder abuse cases.

The Ohio Attorney General's Elder Abuse Commission provided many of the recommendations included in the legislation.  If signed into law, House Bill 24 would place the commission in statute to increase awareness and improve education on elder abuse, improve policy, funding, and programming related to elder abuse, and identify ways to coordinate statewide efforts to address the issue.

"As Attorney General, my priority is protecting Ohio's families, including senior citizens, and the Ohio Elder Justice Act will complement the work currently underway in the Attorney General's Office," said Attorney General DeWine.  "I support placing my office's Elder Abuse Commission in statute because, not only is it the right thing to do, but it also ensures that future attorneys general have a clear mandate to continue and build upon the commission's work."

The Ohio Elder Justice Act would also expand the list of persons required to report suspected elder abuse to include financial institutions, and it would give Adult Protective Services the ability to seek protective orders regarding irreparable financial harm.

"The focus on elder abuse over the years has been primarily on physical or emotional abuse, but with the Ohio Elder Justice Act we are now looking at broader issues such as financial exploitation as well," said Representative Dovilla. "We have been very happy to partner with the Attorney General's Office to close the loop in this area and require mandatory reporters within banks and other financial institutions."

"House Bill 24, through the help of Attorney General Dewine and Prosecutor Gmoser, will be one of the largest pro-active crime fighting measures the General Assembly has taken in years," said Representative Retherford.  "It will give law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to stop elder abuse and fraud before it happens through educating individuals who have daily interactions with our growing senior population.  I look forward to Senate Hearings on this bill and strongly encourage our colleagues in the Ohio Senate to pass this measure quickly."

"Exploitation of the elderly and the infirm has grown as never before.  This much needed legislation will enable and require those in positions to make a difference to better serve that vital, but underrepresented, segment of our state," said Butler County Prosecutor Gmoser.

Other efforts underway by the Attorney General's Office to protect Ohio's seniors include the formation of the Ohio Attorney General's Elder Justice Initiative.  The initiative was launched by Attorney General DeWine in 2014 to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases and improve victims' access to services in Ohio.  Since the launch of the initiative, the Attorney General's Office has received more than 230 requests for assistance and has opened multiple criminal investigations.  The majority of complaints received are in regards to financial exploitation of older adults ranging between $200 and $1,000,000.

The Attorney General's Office also compiled and distributed a Guardianship Guide to better equip individuals to serve as guardians or protect relatives under guardianship.  The guide can be found on the Ohio Attorney General's website.


Media Contacts:

Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Jill Del Greco: 614-466-3840

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