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CONYERS — In recognition of June 14 being Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office issued the following release:

Elder abuse is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to someone 65 years of age or older. Forms of elder abuse include: physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, neglect, financial, and exploitation.

In 2017, the need to focus on elder abuse cases became more apparent in Rockdale County. The county’s 65 years of age and older population has grown significantly since 2010, and from 2013 to 2017, approximately 488 elder abuse cases were investigated by Adult Protective Services in this county. The District Attorney’s Office reported an increase in investigations of elder abuse cases as well.

Therefore, District Attorney Alisha Johnson, Sheriff Eric J. Levett, and Probate Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr., through a collaborative effort, along with the tireless efforts of Corporal Dawn Murrain of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, formed the Protecting our Elderly and At-Risk with Resources for better Living (“P.E.A.R.L.”) program in Rockdale County.

As of May 17, P.E.A.R.L. is one of three officially recognized multi-disciplinary teams in the State of Georgia. Its mission is to:

♦ Elevate awareness;

♦ Respond in a timely manner;

♦ Effectively Investigate; and

♦ Preserve the protective processes of any reported abuse toward elderly and/or at-risk individuals in Rockdale County.

We will collaborate with state and local agencies, as well as various service providers to ensure the safety and well-being of the elderly (65 and older) and at-risk (18 to 64 years old with a disability) in our community.

P.E.A.R.L.’s goal is to provide assistance to residents who are alleged victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation or self-neglect. With prompt reporting of alleged abuse, these individuals can be removed from an abusive situation and provided resources to assist them.

Moreover, the abusers and the perpetrators will be held accountable criminally and/or civilly when their actions warrant the same. Additionally, P.E.A.R.L. will focus on unlicensed personal care homes to ensure they are not operating in Rockdale County.

In 2018, approximately 90 elder abuse cases were referred to the Sheriff’s Office to be investigated and 22 arrest warrants were issued involving the reporting of elder at-risk abuse offenses.

For additional information regarding P.E.A.R.L. or to report suspected abuse, contact Corporal Murrain at (770) 278-8159 or email us at contact@rockdalepearl.org.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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