MADISON — Two Republican
legislators introduced a package of legislation Tuesday that
would combat elder abuse by increasing the criminal penalties
and allowing financial advisers and bankers to delay seniors'
The bill's chief authors, state
Sen. Patrick Testin and Rep. John Macco, told reporters during a
news conference that data from the state Department of Health
Services show the number of elder abuse cases in Wisconsin has
increased by 160 percent since 2001. They warned that the
problem will only grow worse as Wisconsin's population ages.
"This trend (of elder abuse)
is going to increase exponentially," Macco said. "We
need to do better. With an aging population, we will have to do
The bills stem from
recommendations developed by a task force that former Attorney
General Brad Schimel put together to study elder abuse. The task
force released draft versions of the bills in October.
The package includes measures
that would make sexual misconduct against a victim 60 years old
or older a felony punishable by up to 60 years in prison. The
crime is currently a felony punishable by up to 40 years in
The bills also would create the
crime of physical abuse against an elder, defined as a person 60
or older. Penalties would range from three-and-a-half years to
40 years in prison. Defendants convicted of crimes against the
elderly could face new penalty enhancers ranging from two to six
additional years in prison, depending on the offense's maximum
Judges would be required to
expedite court proceedings in crimes involving elderly victims
or witnesses to minimize stress on them.
Brokers, investment advisers,
financial advisers, banks and other lenders could delay an
elderly person's financial transactions if they suspect the
person is being exploited. They would be allowed to notify the
state Division of Financial Institutions and protective service
agencies of suspected exploitation.
Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, had no immediate
comment. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' spokeswoman, Kit Beyer,
said Vos looks forward to discussing the bills with the
Republican caucus in the coming weeks.