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Attorneys react to dismissal of Holyoke Soldiers' Home charges

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home on May 1, 2020.
Greg Saulmon
The Republican / masslive.com
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home.

The attorneys for the former Holyoke Soldiers' Home superintendent and medical director said they are pleased a judge has dismissed criminal neglect charges against their clients.

The charges stemmed from a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in 2020, where at least 76 veterans died.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's office argued former Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director Dr. David Clinton contributed to the deaths of five veterans by deciding to merge two dementia units during a staffing shortage.

But the judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence to prove that.

"The judge found that there was no evidence that any decisions by Dr. Clinton made anyone contract COVID, or cause anyone to die," said Jeffrey Pyle, Clinton’s attorney. "Dr. Clinton is essentially vindicated by this decision."

The attorney general's office said it’s weighing its legal options, which could mean an appeal.

"We're going to wait to see what they decide to do," said Michael Jennings, the attorney for Walsh. "We're hopeful that after a long look at it, they made conclude that there are other avenues to pursue other than those in the criminal form."

The outbreak, and how it was handled, has been the subject of inquiries by an independent investigator hired by Governor Charlie Baker, and another conducted by the Legislature.

The report commissioned by the governor’s administration placed much of the blame squarely on Walsh’s shoulders, while the Legislature criticized Baker for a lack of oversight surrounding the facility.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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