SCRANTON — Carolyn James installed web cameras in her home in Dickson City so she could watch her 96-year-old mom when she was at work.
Those same cameras helped put James in jail.
Last year, a man in Chicago saw a live feed of the web cam and sent a 72 second clip to police in Lackawanna County. James was seen beating her mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease.
“It was horrific. I know everyone in my office who has seen it had the same reaction. I don’t know of anyone who could look at that video and think differently. But yes, I think that had an impact on the sentence,” said Assistant District Attorney Suzy Tierney.
A judge sentenced James to at least one month behind bars. Her mother, who is now 97, has been in a nursing home since James’ arrest in April of 2013.
“To see somebody in Stage 4 Alzheimer’s that can’t defend themselves. And to see what she did on that video. It just broke my heart. It just truly broke my heart,” said Paula Yale of the Area Agency on Aging. “Today’s sentencing is the best thing that could have happened because it’s going to send a message to other people. If you think you can beat your elderly relatives this is what is going to happen to you.”
In court, James took responsibility, but said what was seen on her web cam last year was a one time thing. James called the assault an “insistent” attempt to changer her mother’s clothes.
“All of the medical evidence and all of the facts show that Carolyn gave great care to her mother other than this one tiny episode,” added James’ defense attorney Chris Caputo.
The judge sentenced Carolyn James to one to 24 months at that Lackawanna County Prison. She was also ordered to serve 300 hours of community service to help the elderly.