In May 2019, Keya Morgan was charged with five counts of elder abuse of the late Stan Lee, who passed away in November 2018. The charges brought against Mr. Morgan include:
- Forgery or fraud against an elder adult, and
- Imprisonment of an elder adult.
Mr. Morgan is specifically accused of pocketing $262,000 from autograph-signing sessions Mr. Lee participated in during May 2018. He is also accused of moving Mr. Lee from his large Hollywood Hills home to a smaller Beverly Hills condominium, in order to exert more control over the comic books legend and isolate him from family and friends.
In June 2018, police removed Mr. Lee from Mr. Morgan's care at the Beverly Hills condominium after Mr. Morgan was arrested for making false 911 calls that made Mr. Lee feel like he was in danger.
During this period, Mr. Lee's daughter was able to obtain a restraining order against Mr. Morgan, due to the latter's attempts at manipulating Mr. Lee, despite having no authority to act on Mr. Lee's behalf. The restraining order prohibited Mr. Morgan from contacting Mr. Lee.
In June 2019, Morgan pleads “not guilty” to all charges.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse can consist of both physical and financial abuse. In California, acts of physical violence, including murder, assault, and battery, as well as rape and other sexual crimes can constitute elder abuse.
The state also specifically criminalizes financial crimes against elderly adults, such as theft, embezzlement, and fraud. Although caretakers may have greater opportunities to commit this sort of crime, due to their close proximity with the victim, non-caretakers, such as Mr. Morgan, can also be charged with both misdemeanors and felonies under this charge.
Caretakers, including family members, who are responsible for the health and well-being of elderly adults can also be guilty of elder abuse if they neglect their duties. Charges of elder abuse carry penalties of monetary fines, as well as jail time in either county or state jail.
Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, Mr. Lee's story is not an anomaly. Approximately 1 in 60 adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. The most vulnerable of these adults are those who may be in the process of losing their mental facilities, and cannot clearly advocate for themselves.
However, it's difficult to know how prevalent elder abuse actually is, because it is chronically underreported. It's estimated that only
- 1 in 57 cases of caregiver neglect,
- 1 in 44 cases of financial exploitation,
- 1 in 20 cases of physical abuse, and
- 1 in 12 cases of psychological abuse
Are actually reported to the authorities.
It is therefore incumbent on others, such as family members, friends, or even other caretakers, to remain vigilant about monitoring the elder adults we know, in order to stop abuse when it happens.
The National Institute on Aging lists several signs of elder abuse, including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression or confusion
- Weight loss for no reason
- Displaying signs of trauma, such as rocking back and forth
- Becoming agitated, violent, or withdrawn
- Physical signs, such as bruises, burns, scars, bedsores, and
- Dirty hair, skin, and clothing.
If possible, you should also try to monitor your loved one's financial accounts, to ensure that only authorized individuals are accessing them.
If you suspect someone is abusing an elder adult you know, try to talk to the adult when you are alone with them. Ask questions about what is happening, and let them know that you are worried that something is wrong.
Don't worry about whether you will “snitch” on a coworker, or expose another family member to legal trouble – your primary concern should be with the person you think might be abused. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and to receive the appropriate care to ensure they can maintain their dignity.
You can also seek help by calling 911 or contacting the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Elder abuse is an ongoing, systemic problem across the United States and around the world. If you are interested in learning more about this epidemic, there are a number of documentaries exploring its different facets.
Working with Experienced Elder Abuse Attorneys
If you believed that a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, you don't need to face this problem alone. At The Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman, our elder abuse and nursing home abuse attorneys work diligently to make sure that your loved ones have the care, respect, and dignity they deserve. If you believe someone in your family is a victim of elder abuse, please contact us by calling 705-575-7141 today.