Author Harper Lee subject of elder abuse investigation in connection with new book

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MONROEVILLE, Ala. — The state of Alabama is investigating a complaint of potential elder abuse involving author Harper Lee in the release of a her new book, “Go Set A Watchman.”

It was announced last month that Lee, 88, would publish the book, which Lee completed in the 1950s and then set aside in favor of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

**The story above was reported right after Lee’s announcement**

“Go Set A Watchman” is set to be published July 14. It follows Scout, the little girl of “Mockingbird,” as an adult.

When the announcement was made, Lee released the following statement through her lawyers:

“In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ ” she said. “It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’) from the point of view of the young Scout.

“I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

But the New York Times reports that after the announcement, rumors immediately arose about the new book and Lee’s ability to consent to its release. Some said Lee’s mental health is too shaky to have authorized the decision.  Her publisher, lawyer and agent, however, have said that’s not true.

Others emphasized Lee’s resistance over the years to release a follow-up to “Mockingbird.”

Following the announcement, a complaint of potential elder abuse was lodged with the state of Alabama. The state’s Human Resources Department and Alabama Securities Commission, which investigates financial fraud involving the elderly, are looking in to the complaint.

Investigators visited Lee last month in her assisted living facility and have questioned several workers at the facility, along with Lee’s friends.

A spokesman for the state human resources department told the New York Times he could not comment on any ongoing investigation.

It’s not clear what will come out of the investigation.

Read much more here.

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