Indicted Soldiers’ Home officials to be arraigned Nov. 5

  • An ambulance arrives at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2020 4:41:38 PM

SPRINGFIELD — The former superintendent and former medical director of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke will appear in court in early November where they will answer to charges of criminal neglect brought against them in connection with a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility that contributed to the deaths of 76 veterans and left others ill earlier this year.

Former superintendent Bennett Walsh, 50, of Springfield; and former medical director Dr. David Clinton, 71, of South Hadley, will be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield on Nov. 5 at 11 a.m., according to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office. Each are charged with 10 counts of criminal neglect.

In a statement announcing the charges, the attorney general’s office said that its prosecution is focused on a March 27 decision to consolidate two dementia units into one, even though both units contained residents with different COVID-19 statuses. The office argues that this decision was ultimately up to Bennett and Clinton and that the consolidation increased the likelihood that asymptomatic veterans at the Soldiers’ Home would contract COVID-19.

Walsh and Clinton each face five counts of two separate charges: “Caretaker Who Wantonly or Recklessly Commits or Permits Bodily Injury to an Elder or Disabled Person,” and “Caretaker Who Wantonly or Recklessly Commits or Permits Abuse, Neglect, or Mistreatment to an Elder or Disabled Person.”

In a previous Gazette article, Healey said that the bodily harm charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison, and that the other charge carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. 

Walsh, who had been placed on leave by the state in March, resigned from his position earlier this month. His lawyers have argued that Walsh asked for help from the state and the National Guard during the early days of the outbreak, but that such assistance arrived too late. 

Michael Connors can be reached at 
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