Georgia Voices: Stopping elderly abuse
by The Savannah Morning News
June 17, 2014 04:00 AM | 1946 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Greedy sleazeballs who exploit disabled and elderly adults in Georgia don’t belong in prison. They belong under the prison.

That’s the best way to send the message such atrocities won’t be tolerated.

Sadly, a 70-year-old former hairdresser in Garden City who suffered horrendous deprivation and physical abuse at the hands of her daughter and the younger woman’s boyfriend in 2012 died two weeks ago today.

The death of Caroline Louise Thomas should encourage the public to keep an eye out for citizens who may be suffering but are afraid or incapable of calling for help.

On Feb. 20, Thomas’ 48-year-old daughter, Maria Wiggins, was sentenced to 20 years in prison (but only six to serve) for cruelty to a person 65 years of age or older.

She also was sentenced to five years for exploitation of an elderly person, although those years will run concurrently with the stiffer sentence.

Wiggins’ 52-year-old boyfriend, Michael Victor Nesmith, received the same sentences for the same charges from Superior Court Judge James Bass Jr.

But since Nesmith was charged as a repeat offender, he will not be eligible for parole.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap has made prosecuting crimes against the elderly a priority, and she should be applauded.

Many seniors are helpless and vulnerable. They are easy targets.

As the population ages, it’s possible that the number of innocent victims could grow unless society fights back.

Caroline Thomas didn’t deserve to be treated this way. No one does. That’s why prosecutors and judges must bring down the hammer to punish such atrocious behavior.

And help deter it.

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