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5th Circuit state attorney creates team to review deaths tied to elder abuse


A new team of volunteers will study deaths linked to elder abuse in the 5th Judicial Circuit, which covers five counties, including Lake, Marion and Sumter.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Walter Forgie says they are seeing an increase in abuse-related deaths.

Newly elected State Attorney Bill Gladson is creating the Elder Abuse Fatality Review Team under a Florida law approved last year.

Forgie says doing so was "a big priority" for Gladson.

"We've created this team in hopes of best preventing and/or prosecuting these sorts of crimes," Forgie says.

It will bring together law enforcement officers, prosecutors, senior-care professionals and health care providers to review closed cases.

Possible criminal charges could come to light. But mostly they hope to find communitywide approaches to address the causes and factors behind the deaths. 

And they'll recommend legislative changes through the Department of Elder Affairs.

Forgie says they have the sheriff’s departments on board and are reaching out to other team members.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.