Sons of Kirkwood Dementia Patient Outraged Over Sexual Misconduct Charge

A 63-year-old Kirkwood man with a form of dementia was charged with first-degree sexual misconduct. His sons say it's not right.

The two sons of John G. Edwards, of Kirkwood, say they're outraged by recent actions taken by the and the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

On Wednesday, a was charged with first-degree sexual misconduct after a police report stated that Edwards touched a woman's breast while standing in line at the on May 30.

Edwards, 63, has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, which causes "progressive deterioration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, and includes among its primary symptoms dramatic personality changes, loss of reasoning faculties, and an inability to control one's impulses," stated Grant Edwards, one of John Edward's sons, in an email to Patch.

“It's inconceivable to me that the prosecutor decided to proceed with a formal charge after verifying the facts of John's terminal brain disease,” he said.

Frontotemporal dementia patients exhibit a loss of inhibition, which can result in socially inappropriate and embarrassing behavior, like shoplifting or laughing at a funeral, stated Matt Edwards, John Edward's other son.

He said that his father has had frontotemporal dementia for more than nine years. Most people survive for eight years with the condition, he said.

There is no cure for frontotemporal dementia, which represents more than 10 percent of all dementia cases and affects nearly 50,000 Americans, according to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, a nonprofit organization charged with public education, research and outreach about the illness.


Solambe August 30, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It is totally inconceivable - charges should be dropped.
Pat Maloney (Wilken) August 30, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I agree, charges should be dropped. Anyone knows that a person with Alzheimer's and/or Dementia cannot be held responsible for what they do or say. The family of a person who is sick like that, already has such a hard time taking care of such a person. They are responsible, in a way, because they let him go into the cleaners, alone, which I don't think I would have done. Saying that, where is the common sense that God gave the police and the prosecutor? They should know he can't be held responsible, and charges dropped.
Owen Skoler (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I empathize with both the victim and Edwards. Three of my grandparents suffered from aggressive forms of Alzheimer's disease. An incident like this would have been so painful for us to deal with. There's an important dialogue to be had here.
Kathy August 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Charges should definitely be dropped. However, I don't think Mr. Edwards should be allowed in public without an attendant. That may have helped and again maybe not. I'm sure it all happened so quickly.
Grant Edwards August 30, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Pat and Kathy raise an important concern. In reply, I would say first that John is not a danger to others in his condition. He is a sweet person with childlike mannerisms, and although he says some incredibly odd things to strangers (e.g., the police report states that he could not follow the officer's questions and instead bragged about how he scored 31 points in a basketball game for Brentwood High in 1968!), he is not violent. It's unfortunate what happened at the cleaners. John has made the same pointing gesture in the direction of my g/f's chest, saying "How are you?"; it's a slow, non-threatening movement. I can understand how this young woman would have been upset for about 30 seconds, but to press charges? Perhaps we need to keep a closer eye on John, but we have consulted with neurologists at Wash U to make the appropriate determinations. My mom, Kathy, recognizes that his capacity to enjoy life is diminishing sharply. She has tried admirably to preserve for him a small amount of personal liberty, after having had to take away his car and generally confine him to their house. His cognitive abilities are weak, but he remains a proud man who enjoys being with people. It's a constant chore to monitor his every action in social settings, and sometimes an occasionally embarrassing incident can only be rectified by explaining to others the nature of FTD. Until this episode, however, others have always responded with understanding and compassion. Grant
Anonymous August 30, 2012 at 06:41 PM
you seriously don't think he is a danger to other people? he grabbed an 18 year old girls chest and who knows what else may have happened if the attendant of the dry cleaners had not come back into the room. you were not there. you were not the one who was grabbed so until some old man comes up to you and grabs you inappropriately you have no right to make a statement like "i can understand how this young woman would be upset for about 30 seconds". even if charges are dropped or he is not convicted the Edward's family should keep a closer eye on John because incidents like what happened at the dry cleaners are completely inappropriate.
Grant Edwards August 30, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Anonymity is a wise choice when preaching ignorance. First, the police report says that he "poked" the woman; he did not "grab her chest". The distinction is largely beside the point, but the fact is that he did not physically assault the victim in an aggressive, violent manner (as you seem to think happened, or could have happened). As I explained above, his behavior follows a scripted pattern (FTD patients repeat specific words and actions over and over), so when the police report says he reached out to poke her and at the same time said "How are you?", I recognize this because I've seen him do it to my mother and girlfriend. I don't need to have been there to understand what happened. My saying that the victim's experience could not have been much worse than momentary shock and fearfulness, was not meant to trivialize what was understandably a negative experience. Rather, my point was to give readers an accurate sense for what's involved in the specific behavior in question. FTD patients aren't prone to violence (did you even read my prior posts?). Second, "who knows what else may have happened?" is an incredibly naive comment that betrays your lack of understanding about mental illness. When a child steals a pack of gum from a candy store, you might advise his mother to keep a closer eye on the rascal; you probably wouldn't say that if another adult hadn't been there, the kid might've committed armed robbery and taken a few hostages, too. Grant
Robin Tidwell August 31, 2012 at 02:18 AM
You were at risk for what, exactly? Especially after an explanation was rendered? No compassion at all, huh? And really, "a teenage girl?" You're 18, an adult, now act like one - instead of whining like a 13-year-old "girl." I sure hope no one in your family ever has issues like this, obviously you are only looking out for yourself - or maybe your 15 minutes of fame. My name is right here, but sign me, "Disgusted."
Patti August 31, 2012 at 03:46 AM
My heart goes out to the Edwards family, and I can honestly say I have walked in their shoes. My late husband died from an extremely rare neurological illness in 2010, Crutzfeld-Jacob Disease, which brought him in a very short time from a hard-working businessman, good friend, loving father and grandfather to a person that was extremely unpredictable. And yes, we had someone with him around the clock, and our friends and family made a truly awful situation a bit more bearable, but no matter how diligent we all were, things happened that we couldn't stop. Nothing he did was who he was--it was the disease. I hope that people might realize that not everything is as it seems, and that families are doing everything humanly possible to make their loved one's last days as good as possible. We had a very short time--3 months from diagnosis til his death, and the Edwards family have dealt with Mr. Edwards illness for years. My heart aches for all of the family.
Sarah Wood September 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Patti, I was going to reply to the clearly insensitive, ignorant comment from Anonymous above, but you said it so well and with more tact then I would have mustered. I'm sure this person pressing charges is claiming some sort of pain and suffering... In my opinion she should get in line behind Mr. Edwards -who is dying from a brain disease - and his entire family and circle of friends who are watching a once sophisticated, well-respected businessman, father, geandfather, friend and husband, slide downhill with FTD only to die without the joy of experiencing any "golden years." Out of all of the players I this unfortunate incident, I believe this girl is last in line for any sympathy.
Jim Cooper September 02, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I sponsor the St. Louis Caregiver Support Group for families of individuals with Frontotemporal Degeneration and related dementias. It is a progressive disease, for which there are no known treatments, no cure, and is terminal. It manifests differently and at different rates in each patient. It is devastating disease, physically, mentally and financially for families. There is no easy way to deal with it or with the symptoms. An issue that families deal with regularly is the general lack of knowledge about FTD, surprisingly within the medical and geriatric care communities, as well as the general public. The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration web page, www.theaftd.org, has detail information. The following is an excerpt from their web site: "Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) is a disease process that results in progressive damage to the anterior temporal and/or frontal lobes of the brain. It causes a group of brain disorders that share many clinical features. The hallmark of FTD is a gradual, progressive decline in behavior and/or language that often has a relatively young age at onset... As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to plan or organize activities, behave appropriately in social or work settings, interact with others, and care for oneself, resulting in increasing dependency." Jim Cooper
Laurie Soukup September 03, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Laurie Soukup I have to question the St. Louis county Prosecutors office? Who would persue such a case? The man clearly has an illness that was verified by the Brentwood Police Department. John is my brother in law. My sister and her boys are having to watch a once proud husband and father deteriorate slowly. I too understand how a 19 year old may have been upset or startled by the incident. And for that we are sorry. I hope either she or the County prosecutors rethink this case before they carry it forward.
janet verbarg September 07, 2012 at 03:15 PM
The 18 year old needs to grow up. What happened to her was unfortunate, but such a small thing compared to what this family is going through. I hope she lives long enough to grow up and experience the other side of this incident and still have time to apologize to the family for her lack of knowledge and understanding.
Grant Edwards September 17, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Patti, I meant to reply earlier to say THANK YOU for your comments. I was not previously aware of CJD, but I read about the symptoms, causes, and frequency of occurrence on Wikipedia. It sounds like there are many researchers who are actively working to better understand the mechanisms of transmission and to develop a cure. (I hope their important work is not interrupted by having to defend their patients against frivolous criminal charges, as my father's neurologist at Wash U. are being asked to do this week). Anyway, I appreciated what you wrote and wanted to express my condolences for your loss. Grant


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