ORLANDO, FL. (February 11, 2020) — A woman who acted as a guardian for elderly individuals through the Office of the Public and Private Guardians faces criminal charges relating to elder abuse. Florida’s Attorney General stated that the woman filed DNR, or “do not resuscitate” orders despite the lack of her clients’ consent. Consequently, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicated the woman faces charges of neglect of an elderly person as well as aggravated abuse of an elderly individual. The charges stem from the death of a 74-year-old man who was in the care of the accused woman. The woman worked throughout Central Florida, according to WESH 2.
The former guardian secured her release from jail after posting a bond and made her first court appearance. The charges she faces came to light after a 74-year-old man who was incapacitated died. The investigation to this point suggests that the guardian refused to honor her ward’s request to revoke a do not resuscitate order. Investigators also learned that the ward did not want to sign a DNR order. Additionally, the guardian allegedly signed the DNR order without first communicating with the ward and the ward’s daughter. Doctors believe, according to reports, that the ward had the mental and legal capacity to determine for himself whether he wanted a DNR order in place.
The ward ate through a feeding tube. The factual allegations suggest that the guardian wanted the feeding tube capped and the doctors complied. The guardian told her ward’s physicians and other health care professionals that she, rather than the ward, preferred quality of life over quantity of life. Against the advice of the ward’s doctors, the accused obtained an order to cap the man’s feeding tube. The man passed away four days later.
Law enforcement officials continue to investigate the woman’s actions as a guardian while working for the state agency.
Florida Statutes, Chapter 825, Abuse, Aggravated Abuse, and Neglect of an Older or Disabled Adult
Under the 2019 version of the Florida Statutes, Chapter 825, abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of an older or disabled adult is a crime. Under 825.102(1)(a)-(c), abuse in this instance may be defined as physical or psychological harm inflicted upon the person that is an intentional act, an intentional act that could have the consequence of causing a physical or psychological injury, or encouraging another to commit an act of physical or psychological violence against the elder or disabled adult. A person convicted of abuse of an elder faces up to five years in state prison for a third-degree felony.
Aggravated abuse of an elder or disabled person occurs when the accused commits an aggravated battery, punishes or tortures an elderly person, or “cages” the individual, or commits abuse against an elder or disabled person that causes severe physical harm, a permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. A person convicted of aggravated elder abuse faces a first-degree felony and could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.
A person facing neglect of an elder charges facing a second-degree felony and fifteen years in prison if the elder or disabled adult if the neglect leads to substantial physical harm, physiological harm, or a substantial risk of death. Neglect of an elder that does not cause substantial harm is a third-degree felony punishable by no more than five years in prison.