Abuse unit prosecutes crimes involving seniors


POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2009

Question: I am so distressed about that poor 89-year-old man who was severely beaten by his son and subsequently died. The Medical Examiner's Office found that he died of “;natural causes,”; but the beating had to have been related. Is there an advocacy group for elders who can make sure this son gets prosecuted to the full extent of the law?

Answer: The Elder Abuse Justice Unit was set up last year by Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and is dedicated to prosecuting crimes involving victims 60 years and over.

Members of the unit have been specially trained in matters of elder abuse, both physical and financial, said Scott Spallina, deputy prosecutor in charge of the unit.

The team meets monthly with the Honolulu Police Department and the state Adult Protective Services, and works closely with trained victim advocates from a number of community agencies.

“;Elder abuse is a very complex issue; it takes more than one agency to address it,”; Spallina said.

He also noted that the unit is “;a vertical prosecution team,”; meaning one attorney will see a case through from beginning to end.

According to the Elder Abuse Justice Unit Web site, http://www.co.honolulu.hi.us/prosecuting/elder+abuse-main.htm, “;Elder Abuse is a grossly under-reported crime. More than 2 million elderly Americans are victims of neglect or mistreatment every year.”;

The National Elder Abuse Incident Study found that only 15 percent of all elder abuse is reported.

To address that fact, Spallina said the elder abuse unit seeks to bring about community awareness through participation in senior events and speaking engagements.

Call 768-7536 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

The case you refer to involves William E. Singer, who was charged with felony second-degree assault in the beating of his father, William C. Singer, in March. The elder Singer died later that month.

The Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Singer ultimately died of multiple organ failure and suffered from many conditions, including congestive heart failure and pulmonary artery blockage.

His 57-year-old son admitted to police that he had slapped his invalid father after feces fell on him while he was changing his father's soiled bedding. His father suffered two black eyes and a detached cornea.

However, “;after a full and thorough investigation by HPD, (his death) was determined to be unrelated to the assault that happened earlier in March,”; Spallina said.

Prior to that, the younger Singer was said to have been a conscientious and caring caregiver.

Because the felony charge involved someone older than 60, Singer faces a possible mandatory prison term, Spallina said.

Prosecution and defense attorneys are still reviewing the case, but it does not look like the case actually will go to trial, he said.



Regarding vehicles parked by stop signs and parked against the flow of traffic (”;Kokua Line,”; May 22): Police should come to my neighborhood in Waimalu and ticket the many cars that do not observe the law. There would be no need to raise taxes, because the revenue generated would be enough to cover the city's shortage.—Anonymous