Friday, October 10, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Parolee in rape case

Elderly abuse isn’t talked about enough. But, when it is, we often hear about family members or caregivers who abuse older people physically and financially.

While the elderly can be more prone to be targets of abuse by their caregivers, they also need to be on the lookout for strangers who target them.

A parolee is accused of recently raping a Little Rock woman, 70, who lives alone. Luckily, she survived, didn’t require hospitalization and said the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office treated her case with care.

She recently shared her experience with The Leader and Arkansas Aging. She spoke highly of the sheriff’s office, saying that she was “impressed.”

“The investigator, Drew Evans, was real professional the way he questioned me and made me feel comfortable,” she said. They picked up the alleged perpetrator within 24 hours.

“They are better trained and more respectful than years ago,” she said of the investigator.

The attacker was mowing the lawn before he raped her inside the rental property where she lives, she said. The property contains several homes occupied by older women who live alone.

The alleged rapist was a parolee and part of a work program run by a neighborhood church.

The victim said the man, who was 6’4” and 240 pounds, knocked on her door and asked for a cup of water. She had him wait on the porch and went to get the water.

“He jerked the door open and pushed me against a wall and said if (I) said anything he would hurt me,” she said.

After she reported the attack, she was relieved that Evans treated her with respect and sensitivity.

“They’re making people feel comfortable in (a) situation,” she said.

The victim is a former nurse and veteran of the Vietnam War.

She said “the law is too soft” when it comes to letting parolees back into communities. She’s angry that rapists and people with long criminal histories are let out and expected to behave while they await trial.

The alleged rapist has stayed in jail for seven months since the violent attack. The victim is relieved about that.

She’s found the prosecuting attorney’s office helpful but can’t stand the idea that the rapist might be offered a plea deal. “I pressed charges because I didn’t want him to do it again,” she said.

Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Pulaski County, said there will be no plea bargain before notifying the victim. “We’ll make sure we answer all her questions and explain to her how the system works,” he said.

“I don’t want a plea bargain for rape,” she said. “I want (him) in for life.”

She continued, “I just don’t want him to get out there and do this to anybody else.”

Convicts are no longer allowed on the property where she lives. But, before, she said, they were often there helping the landlord.

During the Vietnam War, she was stationed on a ship where she worked in the surgical units that took casualties.

“I’m not the kind of woman who boohoos,” she said.

“The Navy taught me how to stand on my own two feet. I learned my discipline in the Navy,” she said. “I’m not going to take any crap from anybody.”

– Aliya Feldman