Two Defendants Plead Not Guilty To Charges In Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Case

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Once administrators for the Holyoke Soldiers’ home, Bennett Walsh and Dr. David Clinton were arraigned on criminal neglect charges for their job performance there Thursday.

Walsh, the former Superintendent and Clinton, one of his medical advisors, pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment at Hampden Superior Court held remotely.

The proceeding lasted less than 20 minutes long, and aired live on the MA Trial Court YouTube channel, but has since been removed by the uploader.

Both Bennett and Clinton are facing five counts of criminal neglect and causing serious bodily harm. The charges stem from their oversight of the government-run facility where coronavirus killed 76 people over 11 weeks. At least 80 others got the virus, including Walsh.

Specifically, the charges come from their decision back in March to put people who have the virus into the same spaces as those who showed no symptoms of it.

Walsh’s attorney, Michael Jennings, opposed some of the pretrial conditions the prosecutors wanted. These included preventing Walsh from working in a long-term care facility and not allowing him to have contact with witnesses or victim’s families.

Jennings said such requirements present Walsh to the public as too dangerous to work in nursing homes and may make people assume he is harassing the families of the perished veterans, the lawyer said.

“Nobody feels worse about this, other than the families, than Mr. Walsh does,” Jennings said.

Jennings noted that Walsh hasn’t looked for a new job at a nursing home, and that it would be difficult for him to find one now.

Judge Edward McDonough did not implement either of those conditions for bail. Both Walsh and Clinton were released on personal recognizance with no conditions set.

McDonough is scheduled to oversee a pre-trial hearing for the case on March 22, 2021.

In the past, another one of Walsh’s attorneys, Tracy Miner, argued that he is a scapegoat for the state government’s failures in the corot emergency .

“It is unfortunate that the Attorney General is blaming the effects of a deadly virus that our state and federal governments have not been able to stop on Bennett Walsh,” Miner said back in September, according to Reuters, when Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office brought these charges.

Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Mark Pearlstein examined the situation at the soldiers’ home in Holyoke, at the request of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. In his report released in June, Pearlstein said that “utterly baffling” mistakes led to the deaths of those 76 veterans.