After months of deliberation, a Campbell County Grand Jury has agreed not to indict Eva Cameron. In July, Illinois native Eva Cameron left her mentally impaired daughter, Lynn, at a Caryville tavern.
She would later claim she didn’t know it was a bar when questioned by police.
While Lynn Cameron entered the state’s custody in Tennessee, she was eventually transferred back to Illinois and placed in a facility in her home county.
As Lynn Cameron settled into her new surroundings, authorities in Campbell County wrestled with how to address her mother’s conduct.
“Other states have statutes about addressing abandoning impaired adults. We don’t,” said Eighth Judicial District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones. “Lynn was not harmed, so our statute didn’t match the conduct of the mother.”
Undeterred, prosecutors still wanted a grand jury to review the circumstances.
“The TBI continued to collect information from other agencies in both states,” said Phillips- Jones.
The grand jury wanted to see what steps the Cameron family had taken in their attempt to secure services for their daughter. However, that proved to be difficult because juvenile court records are sealed.
“They (the grand jury) could not get the answers they sought,” Phillip- Jones said.
After that obstacle, the grand jury had additional issues to consider. The cost of extraditing Eva Cameron and the possibility she would qualify for a public defender also weighed into the decision not to indict Eva Cameron.
Despite the lack of an indictment Phillips- Jones believes “all the right things happened for the wrong reasons.”
Through her mother’s behavior Lynn Cameron was eventually provided with the services she needed.
However, the lack of indictment is not a stamp of approval for Eva Cameron’s treatment of her daughter.
“Everyone found the mother’s conduct inexcusable,” Phillips- Jones said.
While the grand jury realized its options were exhausted in this case, the district attorney’s office is working with state legislators to strengthen the laws governing impaired adults. Dennis Powers, 36th District State Representative, is working on Lynn’s Law. The goal is to take Lynn Cameron’s case, learn where current state statutes are weak and then make changes.
“We are trying to close up any loopholes with Lynn’s Law,” said Powers. Currently, Lynn’s Law is in the drafting phase.
“The idea is to take the current law and define abuse and neglect and have it include adults, especially adults with disabilities,” Powers said.
He expects the final version of the law to be completed within the coming weeks.
Once state lawmakers resume their session in late Jan. 2013 Lynn’s Law will work its way through two committees. Phillips-Jones is slated to testify before the committees.
“I think that will be a big help,” Powers said.
Should Lynn’s Law pass, it would become effective July 1, 2013.