Families react to Holyoke Soldiers’ Home administrators facing judge | News


In court, they sought to dismiss the charges against them, as family members of the veterans who died watched.

HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — The details of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home brought to light once more as two of the former administrators of the home faced a judge Tuesday.

Former superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director David Clinton face caretaker bodily injury charges and neglect charges handed down by the attorney general after 77 veterans died from the outbreak.

In court, they sought to dismiss the charges against them, as family members of the veterans who died watched.

No decision was ultimately made Tuesday on whether to dismiss these charges even after an all-day hearing.

“Everything was just so mismanaged and chaotic up there,” Laurie Mandeville Beaudette, whose father died at the facility said.

Mandeville Beaudette’s father, James, died after she said he was in the fray of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soliders’ Home last spring.

“He was supposedly COVID negative, and within 48 hours, he was showing signs of COVID at the Holyoke Medical Center, and he died within a week and a half of being down there,” Mandeville Beaudette said.

Her father is not one of the five veterans named in the attorney general’s case bringing criminal neglect and bodily injury charges against former home superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director David Clinton.

But as she sat with other family members of late veterans listening to the defendants’ lawyers try to get the charges dismissed in court, it brought up one emotion.

“It’s infuriating,” Mandeville Beaudette said.

Bennett Walsh’s attorney contending that he didn’t fit the definition of a primary caregiver to the vets and that mere exposure to COVID19 doesn’t constitute a bodily injury.

“The Commonwealth failed to produce evidence of direct bodily injury, an element of the crime, to the grand jury. The reason they failed is because there wasn’t any bodily injury,” Attorney for Bennett Walsh, Michael Jennings said.

Motion hearing held in case against former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home leaders

But the attorneys for the Commonwealth argued that the top-down decision made by the home’s administration to consolidate ill and healthy veterans into one dementia unit exposed the residents to COVID-19.

“Exposure to a virus which for these individuals dementia patients, veterans who are frail and elderly that would not constitute bodily injury?” Assistant Attorney General Kevin Lownds questioned.

As for Beaudette, who placed her father in the care of the of home she said she wants to see accountability at every level.

“They were the captain of the ship and they let the ship sink,” Mandeville Beaudette said.

The next date in the case is October 28. Meantime, a civil case has been filed by an employee of the home alleging five upper-level managers at the home including Walsh and Clinton threatened their civil rights.

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