Attorney General files appeal for Holyoke Soldiers’ Home case

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – State Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a notice of appeal in Hampden County Superior Court for the reversal of the courts decision dismissing charges against former superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director David Clinton of the Soldiers’ Home.

The Attorney General’s Office began an investigation in April 2020 after a total of 247 veterans lived at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home before the outbreak began. Of those, 160 became infected and 76 veterans died of the virus. In September of 2020, Attorney General Maura Healey announced criminal charges against two former leaders of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

Former superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director David Clinton were on the frontlines as COVID-19 infected veterans and staff throughout the facility. Maura Healey said she charged these two because they were the “ultimate decision makers” at the home.

According to Attorney General Healey, the charges were based on their decision to consolidate two dementia units into one, which resulted in the placement of symptomatic residents, confirmed COVID-19-positive residents and asymptomatic residents within the same unit. Three of them contracted the virus and one of them died.

Walsh and Clinton were charged with five counts of neglect of an elder or disabled person and five counts of causing or permitting serious bodily injury to an elder. Both could face decades in prison if convicted. On November 22,  a Hampden Superior Court judge dismissed the charges.

“The tragic loss of life at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home broke the promise that our Commonwealth would honor these men who bravely served our country,” said AG Healey. “We are filing this notice of appeal today to pursue accountability on behalf of their loved ones and communities.”

The case will be transferred to the Appeals Court, where a formal appeal will be entered.

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