Attorney for Holyoke Soldiers’ Home superintendent calls findings of independent report “baseless accusations”

Hampden County

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Lawyer for the superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is disputing statements made by Attorney Mark Pearlstein in his independent report on the Covid-19 outbreak at the veterans’ facility. 

In a statement to 22News, Attorney William Bennet said although he appreciates Pearlstein’s findings, he and his client, Bennet Walsh, are disappointed that the report contained “many baseless accusations that are immaterial to the issue under consideration.” Bennett added that he and his client were never given the opportunity to rebut before the report was made public. 

Governor Baker addresses investigation report on Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke

“We are reviewing the report and will have more to say in the days ahead,” Bennett stated, adding that they are reviewing legal options as it appears that the action by Secretary Sudders and Governor Baker violates the order of the Superior Court and denies Mr. Walsh the opportunity for a fair and public hearing.” 

Walsh is still named as the superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home as of date, although he’s been placed on paid administrative leave since news about the outbreak broke in late March. In his independent report, Attorney Pearlstein included that Walsh was not qualified for the position.

REPORT: Independent Investigation at Holyoke Soldier’s Home

Bennett said he believes the Commonwealth’s failure to affirmatively respond to requests his client made when the outbreak began at the facility in March contributed to many of the problems outlined in Pearlstein’s report. 

You can read Attorney William Bennett’s full statement to 22News below: 

We thank Attorney Pearlstein for his courtesy.

However, we dispute many of the statements and conclusions in the report, to which we were never given the opportunity to rebut prior to publication. We are also disappointed that the report contains many baseless accusations that are immaterial to the issues under consideration. We are reviewing the report and will have more to say in the days ahead. We are also reviewing legal options as it appears that the action by Secretary Sudders and Governor Baker violates the order of the Superior Court and denies Mr. Walsh the opportunity for a fair and public hearing.

The report does establish that the original accusations that Mr. Walsh reported nothing to state officials and tried to keep everyone in the dark are false. It is clear that Mr. Walsh reached out for help when the crisis erupted. He indeed did request National Guard medical assistance. The failure of the Commonwealth to affirmatively respond to that request contributed to many of the problems outlined in the report.

The one thing we do agree with is that Mr. Walsh did and still does care deeply about the veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

William M. Bennett, lawyer for Bennett Walsh

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