On Monday, July 30, 2007, a Staten Island senior was viciously attacked in her Port Richmond home. According to an article in the Daily News today, Sarah Dowtin, 70, was in her home at 5:15 p.m. when Julio Caesar Lainez, 41, broke in and attacked her. He punched her savagely, breaking three of her ribs, he then tied her up with an electrical cord from the TV, attempted to rape her and threatened to kill her.
Earlier this year, the State Senate passed a bill, popularly known as "Granny’s Law," that will impose tougher penalties on dangerous thugs who physically assault senior citizens. "Granny’s Law" was developed in response to the vicious attacks on 101-year-old Rose Morat, the Queens grandmother who was mugged on her way to church. The same attacker is also suspected in the beating and mugging of 85-year-old Solange Elizee, a crime that occurred just a half hour later.
Following these brutal attacks, the current laws governing physical attacks against the elderly were reviewed. It was discovered that while the assailant in these two cases could face robbery charges, under current law he would only face a misdemeanor charge for the physical attacks he launched on the two elderly women.
The legislation passed in the Senate, S.3684, would make it a class D or class E violent felony to assault seniors over the age of 70. It also makes it a class D or class E violent felony to assault someone age 60 or older who suffers from a disease or infirmity associated with advanced age. Class D violent felonies carry a penalty of up to 7 years in prison, while class E felonies carry a penalty of up to 4 years in prison.
"The act of beating up an elderly woman is, by its very nature, a potentially life-threatening act," said Senator Andrew Lanza (R - Staten Island). "Predators who deliberately seek out and prey upon defenseless seniors are a dangerous menace to society, posing a unique and very serious threat to some of our most vulnerable citizens."
The Assembly has yet to take action on this common-sense criminal justice reform.
"We have an obligation to defend the elderly who are often targeted by criminals because of their inability to fight back and defend themselves," said Senator Lanza. "This legislation will ensure that those despicable criminals who assault and victimize senior citizens are punished in a manner that truly reflects the serious nature of their crimes. I urge Speaker Silver and my colleagues in the Assembly to pass "Granny’s Law" immediately so that this important measure becomes law."