Jail Time for Elder Abuse Caught on Camera

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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.


  • K

    Number 1, the woman should not be home alone while this woman worked. She should be in a facility that can look after 24/7, or home-care while the daughter is at work. Did the man in Chicago have something to do with the camera installation? Or was this just a standard web-cam? Or did someone suspect abuse and it’s the random dude’s job in Chicago to check it out? This story is odd all around.
    So 300 hours around the elderly even tho she’ charged with elderly abuse and then what, back at home with mom again? That makes no sense. The woman she abused? My mom had Alzheimer’s, it’s a terrible disease and hard to deal with but I don’t recall I ever beat her! It’s hard on a family. At 96 it is likely this woman is very frail and really couldn’t put up much of a fight not have the wherewithal to cooperate. Add that 300 hours to her prison term, and forget about letting her near the elderly!

    • Carter Pewterschmidt

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Why would they allow this person to be around the elderly? Might as well ask priests to help kids in the community while were at it. No one in the court system has a brain so there ya go.

  • Tom

    I would love to know how the guy in Chicago saw a web cam feed from here home. Thats the best part of the story outside of the sentencing . My man even had it on record. Hmmmmmm

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