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updated: 7/27/2012 5:24 PM

Tennessee grand jury to look into Algonquin mom

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  • Lynn Cameron

      Lynn Cameron

 
 

A Tennessee grand jury will decide in two weeks whether to bring charges against an Algonquin mother who last month left her severely disabled daughter alone at a bar in Tennessee, authorities said.

Eva Cameron, of Algonquin, drove her daughter Lynn Cameron, 19, to Caryville, Tenn., and left her at a bar there on June 28. Lynn Cameron, whom court records describe as having profound mental deficits, couldn't give her name to authorities, who only determined her identity about 10 days later after the case was publicized in the news media. Eva Cameron later told authorities she could not, and would not, care for her daughter.

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Tennessee Assistant District Attorney General Scarlett Ellis said the grand jury will meet Friday, Aug. 10, and will be asked to determine whether Eva Cameron should be charged under statutes regarding the neglect and exploitation of an impaired adult. Although the statutes fall under Tennessee's elder abuse laws, they can be applied to this case, Ellis said.

"We're still getting documents in. Were not only dealing with the things that happened here in Tennessee, but the history of Lynn and getting (information about) what her impairment is," she said.

Eva Cameron, who has two other teenage children, did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. In an interview earlier this month, she struggled to explain exactly why she left her daughter alone at a bar. She said she had been trying to have her daughter placed in a state facility for several years.

Meanwhile, Lynn Cameron returned to Illinois on Thursday evening and is now staying in a state-funded residential home, said Januari Smith Trader, communication manager for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Earlier this month, she had been placed temporarily in the custody of Tennessee's Department of Human Services; on Wednesday, a Tennessee judge ordered her release to the state of Illinois, court records show.

Authorities in Illinois and Tennessee worked together to ensure that Lynn Cameron is in the best possible placement, close to relatives and friends, said Missy Marshall, director of communications and external affairs for Tennessee's Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

There are about 22,000 people on a waiting list to receive services from the Department of Human Services, including residential placement, but Lynn Cameron's case was considered a crisis, Trader Smith said. "She was homeless, which made her eligible for immediate services and placement," she said.

The Department of Human Services is collaborating with a Chicago-based disability advocacy agency that is investigating whether to push for charges in Illinois, Trader Smith said.

Algonquin police are still investigating the case to determine whether Eva Cameron will be charged with any crimes, Chief Russell Laine said.

Tennessee state Rep. Dennis Powers, whose district includes Caryville, said he is working toward introducing a bill called Lynn's Law to ensure people don't just abandon those with mental disabilities across state lines. The bill's co-sponsor is Tennessee state Sen. Ken Yager.

Powers said his goal is to get a federal law passed. "It's almost like interstate commerce. It's very important because it could really lead to one state becoming almost a sanctuary state for disabled adults, because they can't get services in their state," he said. "We want to make sure that the law is clear, and those people will be held accountable."

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