Criminal Charges Dismissed Against Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Leaders Amid Deadly COVID-19 Outbreak

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The epidemic has claimed 77 lives from COVID-19.

A Massachusetts judge dismissed all criminal charges against two former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home officials, citing no “reasonably reliable evidence.”

The facility made national headlines last year, when 77 veterans, who were residing in the house, died from coronavirus in the first months of the pandemic.

In September 2020, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey asked a grand jury to indict former Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director Dr. David Clinton with negligence of the elderly and authorization of personal injury. bodily.

The prosecution focused on a decision, taken on March 27, 2020, to consolidate two dementia units into one.

Healey alleged that Walsh and Clinton were “ultimately responsible for the decision” which led to tragic and fatal results “to combine the 42 veterans into a single unit that can typically accommodate 25 beds. Six or seven veterans have were placed in rooms intended to hold only 4. Due to overcrowding, nine beds were also placed in a dining room.

Placing symptomatic residents, including residents confirmed positive for COVID-19, and asymptomatic residents, within meters of each other, thus increased their risk of exposure, Healey said.

“There is not enough reasonably reliable evidence that, had these two dementia units not been merged, the state of health of any of these five veterans would have been significantly different,” wrote the Hampden Superior Court judge Edward J. McDonough, Jr., in a notice of dismissal. Monday. “Therefore, because the evidence does not support a finding of probable cause to believe that Mr. Walsh or Mr. Clinton committed a crime, I must dismiss the indictments against both.”

The five veterans specified in the original trial had “already” been exposed to COVID-19 prior to the merger, the judge wrote.

In a statement to ABC News, a spokeswoman for Healey wrote that the office was considering other legal options moving forward.

“We are very disappointed with today’s decision, especially on behalf of the innocent victims and families injured by the actions of the defendants. We are evaluating our legal options to move forward,” the spokesperson wrote. Jillian Fennimore.

When the complaint was filed in September 2020, Susan Kenney, whose father, Charles Lowell, served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1965, during the Vietnam War, and died in the facility at the following the outbreak, told ABC News she welcomed the accusations.

“I think Bennett Walsh and Dr Clinton should dig any graves that haven’t been dug yet – along with the time they get if they’re found guilty,” Kenney said last fall. “They must accept responsibility and be held accountable for their behaviors and the actions they have taken.”


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