2007-05-02 / Seniors

Demo For Tougher Sentences For Assaults On Seniors

As Queens detectives charged a suspect with assaulting two Jamaica seniors last March, pressure was being put on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to pass a bill making assaulting anyone over the age of 70 a felony.

The legislation has already been passed by the state senate, but Silver has refused to act on that bill because, he says, laws with the felony provision are already on the books.

Last Friday, several dozen seniors, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, marched into Silver's office in the state capitol building in Albany to demand that he act on the senate bill.

Clad in red T-shirts that carried their message, "Pass Granny's Law", they came to confront the powerful Assembly leader, but he was not in his office.

Bruno, 78, had told the group of seniors, "All we have to do is put this bill on the floor. It will pass and become law and you will be safe. All of us will be safe."

Bruno also urged Governor Eliot Spitzer to bring pressure on Silver and the Democrats to pass the Granny's Law bill.

The measure was drawn up soon after an intruder beat 101-year-old Rose Morat in the vestibule of her Jamaica Estates apartment building March 4 as she was preparing to leave for church.

A short time later, the man who police said assaulted Morat struck again in another section of Jamaica and allegedly assaulted Solange Elizee, 85.

Neither woman was seriously injured.

Last Friday, Queens police arrested and charged Jack Rhodes, 44, with robbery as a hate crime, burglary, second degree assault and grand larceny for the alleged crimes against Morat and Elizee.

Police said Rhodes had served eight years in prison for robbery and burglary convictions in Queens. It was also reported Rhodes had an Elmhurst address, according to court records.

Neither of the two Jamaica victims was able to identify Rhodes as their attacker. However, a surveillance camera in Morat's building lobby recorded the attack on the feisty grandmother.

Police also charged Rhodes with another attack similar to the ones on Morat and Elizee, and which also occurred in Jamaica last December.

FREE FILM SERIES: Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, City Councilmember Eric Gioia and the Queens Interagency Council on Aging joined and succeeded in getting the Museum of the Moving Image (MMI) to present a free film series featuring stories about happenings in New York City.

The series is free for Queens seniors, but due to limited seating, advance registration is required. MMI is located at 35th Avenue and 36th Street in Astoria.

The next movies that will be shown are:

+"Sweet Smell of Success" next Wednesday, May 9, at 10:30 a.m. It stars Burt Lancaster as a Walter Winchell-type gossip columnist and Tony Curtis as one of his main sources of items.

+On the following Wednesday, May 16, also at 10:30 a.m., the courtroom drama, "Twelve Angry Men", will be shown. The story is based on an actual event which occurred in a Queens courthouse and stars Henry Fonda.

Both films are highly recommended by this writer.

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