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Minister facing numerous charges in elder abuse case

It is a situation that plays out time and time again. The most vulnerable people in our society are sought out and taken advantage of by those whom they trust the most. In a sad case of elder abuse that spans from Ontario to the east coast, a minister now faces a litany of charges for allegedly defrauding an elderly woman.

In May 2016, a 66-year-old man was arrested by Durham Regional Police on three fraud-related charges. The man, a Presbyterian minister in P.E.I., had become friends with an 89-year-old widow in Oshawa. He is alleged to have used the woman's credit card without her knowledge. In July 2016, an additional four charges were laid against him, also fraud-related, and all regarding the same victim. In total, he is alleged to have taken around $160,000 from her, and the woman was close to losing her home for defaulting on her mortgage.

More recently, another set of charges was laid relating to the alleged defrauding of a second individual. Police described this person as being "vulnerable". The victim in this case awarded power of attorney to the accused, who is alleged to have taken out credit cards and a mortgage in the victim's name. The victim is estimated to have lost over $325,000. The total number of charges against the accused now stands at 22.

Elder abuse may take many forms: it can be physical, emotional, or financial. Sadly, it often goes unreported and unpunished. Any person who is aware of a possible case of elder abuse in Ontario should speak with the police. Contacting a lawyer who handles elder abuse cases may also be helpful in determining one's rights and in planning a course of action.

Source: CBC News - Prince Edward Island, "P.E.I. minister Harold Alan Stewart now faces 22 charges in Ontario", Sally Pitt, Nov. 21, 2016

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