Alabama agency closes Harper Lee elder-abuse investigation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An investigation into potential elder-abuse of author Harper Lee — sparked by the surprising announcement that she would publish a new book — is closed, with no findings of any abuse, officials said Monday.

The “To Kill A Mockingbird” author made international headlines in February with the news that she would be publishing a new book. The news prompted some in Lee’s hometown of Monroeville to question whether the 88-year-old author was able to give consent for the publication of “Go Set a Watchman.”

Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg said last month that his agency looked into the matter at the request of the Department of Human Resources and sent an investigator to speak with Lee. Borg said Lee was able to answer questions about the book to investigators’ satisfaction. Borg said Lee seemed aware of what was happening with her book, so his office closed its part of the probe.

On Monday, Department of Human Resources spokesman Barry Spear confirmed that the entire investigation has been closed.

Bobby Segall, a lawyer representing Lee’s attorney Tonja Carter, confirmed Monday that they received a letter saying that DHR was closing the investigation with no findings.

HarperCollins has announced a July 14 release date for “Watchman.” The book is high on Amazon.com’s best-seller list despite some concerns about the novel. Lee wrote “Watchman” before “Mockingbird.” Lee had long expressed that she’s happy to have 1960’s “Mockingbird” — which won a Pulitzer, was adapted into a movie and sold more than 40 million copies worldwide — as her only published book.

Lee lives in an assisted-living facility in Monroeville.

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