On Jan. 30, 2012, my 90-year-old mother was beaten by a state-tested nursing assistant in a local nursing home. She suffered a severe head injury, cuts and multiple bruises. She was a petite, frail woman, totally dependent on others for her care.
Her injuries were severe enough that the police were contacted. The investigating officer confiscated a bloody gown, blood-soaked washcloths and a broken coat hanger, possibly used to strike my mom. My mother, suffering from dementia, was unable to tell anyone what had happened. Her elderly roommate, who had heard the assistant strike my mother three times, was the only witness.
My mother spent the next four nights in a hospital intensive care unit. She died less than a month later. Because she had health issues that would have recommended her for hospice care, the investigation concluded that the attack was not the direct cause of her death. I believe it hastened it.
After a lengthy police investigation, no charges were filed. As of Sept. 3, the case has been officially closed. In spite of an extensive case built by a diligent detective, the prosecutor’s office ultimately decided not to pursue charges.
The “circumstantial” evidence was not considered strong enough to support a felony conviction. Ultimately, the nursing assistant was not charged with any crime because there was no “credible” witness.
Prosecutors, of course, want to have winning records and prefer cases with “slam dunk” eyewitness evidence. But should ease of winning a conviction be the deciding factor in pressing charges?
When evidence points so strongly to a crime having been committed, isn’t charging the only possible suspect the just and right thing to do?
Elderly abuse cases are, undoubtedly, complex. Often lacking eyewitness testimony, they require special medical and criminal justice expertise to successfully prosecute.
Medical professionals must be able to distinguish injuries from mistreatment from accidental injuries and be willing to testify. Such cases also lack jury appeal. The elderly victim is often in poor health and close to death; attitudes persist that such cases are not “worth the effort.”
By not pursuing charges, however, the justice system allows this abuser to remain nameless. She will be able to retain her license and be able to continue working in nursing homes or in home health-care settings.
A criminal background check will show no hint that this woman is capable of a vicious assault. On her employment application, she simply need not mention the nursing home she worked in or use anyone at the nursing home as a reference. Your helpless mother or father may, unfortunately, be her next victim.
A building worth preserving
It seems so typical, tearing something down only for a few parking spaces (“Sanctuary to end,” Sept. 19). It sounds familiar to the song by Chrissie Hynde, My City Was Gone.
The St. Bernard School building has stood since 1887 and has seen a lot of history, local and otherwise. Even the architecture shows what quality went into building back then.
I would like to know how unsafe the church deems the building to be. I’m sure it could be used in some way, such as a shelter or some functional use. It isn’t as if Akron needs any more parking spaces.
What a loss to be lamented later. Think about Barberton, when the magnificent O.C. Barber mansion was torn down in 1965.
Ronald R. Neal
Toward improved health care
I am responding to the Sept. 20 letter “Stop funding Obamacare.” The only thing I can think of is that the writer probably has health insurance where he works or is on Medicare or Medicaid.
If he is, he is lucky. Every year, more and more companies are cutting back on that perk. This is not just because of the Affordable Care Act; companies have been doing this for many years.
Health insurance is a benefit, and is not required or guaranteed. Without the Affordable Care Act, more than 30 million people will not have health insurance. Those with pre-existing conditions may not be able to get insurance, or it will be extremely expensive.
Now, people are tied to their job, afraid to leave because they may lose their health coverage. With the Affordable Care Act, people will be able to change jobs and will not be forced to stay at one place. This will be an incentive for companies to treat their employees better.
If the Republicans put half of their effort into making the Affordable Care Act a better plan as they do trying to stop it, maybe we could have the best plan in the world. Instead, the only list we are at the top of is the most expensive health care in the world.
We have higher infant mortality and shorter life spans than other industrialized countries. Yet we have the highest health-care spending per person. Companies should not be in the health-care business; they should be in the business of making money for their shareholders.
I can’t imagine anyone would think of not signing up for Medicare when they get old enough. If the government can run health-care insurance for seniors, I am sure it can run it for the rest of the country.
Not everything is perfect, and it never will be, but if the entire country would get behind the Affordable Care Act instead of trying to repeal it, with nothing to replace it, it could become something the whole world would envy. What is so dangerous about insuring 30 million people?
Built only for killing
We have lots of laws that protect us from unsafe products. We have lots of laws that restrict the freedoms of individuals who cause unreasonable problems in our society.
Guns that can be used to kill and injure many people in a minute using absurdly large ammo clips have no rightful place in our society. They are not safe products. Their purpose is not for protection. They are not for hunting. Their purpose is to make killing others easy.
Such weapons need to be banned from public ownership. Ammo clips are for rapid fire, rapid killing. They should also be banned. They are not necessary for shooting practice or hunting.
The repeated misuse of these weapons by irresponsible people is grounds for removing those guns from our society.
People will still shoot each other, but providing military-style weapons so they can vent their anger on large groups of innocent people is reprehensible and morally indefensible.
After watching Trent Richardson for a full season, I wondered why he didn’t block anyone. I wondered why he couldn’t pick up the blitz. I wondered why he danced so much in the backfield, and I wondered why he is injury prone.
I wondered why he was pounding the middle of the line, and I wondered why he had trouble getting around the outside linebackers.
I guess I won’t wonder anymore.
James J. Kizak
Seriously, it’s the law
The current TV ads being run by Republicans advising college students to opt out of Obamacare would be hilarious if health care wasn’t such a serious matter. Opt out of Obamacare, pay the penalty and “you will be better off.”
One ad shows a scary Uncle Sam popping up between a woman’s legs, with a caption about keeping government out of your health care.
Yet if that same woman wanted an abortion, a Republican Uncle Sam would be there saying: “No, no, no, we won’t let you do that.” And on top of that, if that same woman only wanted contraception advice, she could be told: “No, no, no, you can’t have that, either.”
Obamacare is the law, abortion is legal, contraception is legal. So, too, is Viagra for all those older congressmen who want to harness a woman’s right to make her own decisions.
Count to three
According to a Sept. 23 letter (“A pregnancy makes two”), “Once [a woman] becomes pregnant, there are two.” In that case, I’m sure the writer would be in favor of laws requiring absentee fathers to pay child support from the day of conception.
If a man denies paternity, he would be required to submit to DNA testing. And if a father refuses to pay support, or tries to flee, he would be pursued and his wages garnished.
Certainly, no decent, right-thinking man would protest these measures. Any man worthy of fatherhood would gladly give up his privacy and accept legal intervention, for the sake of the child.
Because, after all, once a woman becomes pregnant, there are in fact three.
Sharon L. Shelly