Deal to allow former Eagleton School staffer to avoid jail

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PITTSFIELD — A staffer accused of assaulting students at the former Eagleton School will be cleared of charges if he stays out of trouble for a year.

Alexis A. Lopez, 24, of Pittsfield, was one of approximately 20 staff members caught up in the investigation into alleged abuse of students following a January 2016 raid of the Great Barrington campus. The school remained open after the raid by local, state and federal authorities, but it closed for good that April after its licenses to operate were revoked.

Lopez was accused of assaulting five students between Jan. 1, 2015, and Jan. 28, 2016, at the school for developmentally disabled boys and young men.

He pleaded not guilty in June to 14 charges; seven counts of assault and battery on a disabled person, six counts of caretaker abuse on a disabled person and one count of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury.

Judge John Agostini accepted a recommendation from Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Gregory Barry and Lopez's attorney Peter C. Alessio to have Lopez's case continued without a plea for one year with the condition he complete anger management counseling.

If he completes that counseling and stays out of further legal trouble, Lopez's charges will be dismissed on Nov. 1, 2018.

Another former staff member, Derrick Saunders, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty in mid-October to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a disabled person and caretaker abuse of a disabled person for allegedly striking the head of one of the students against a radiator while restrained in April 2014.

His case also was continued without a finding for one year.

In July, a jury acquitted former staff member Jose O. Valqui, 53, of Pittsfield, who faced the same charges as Saunders did. That case involved a separate incident that occurred in May 2015.

A pending civil lawsuit against the school and several of its staff members alleges that staff routinely abused and neglected students, denied them proper medical attention, did not adequately investigate or report instances of abuse, and denied guardians access to their students if they complained or raised concerns.

The investigation was conducted by members of the Great Barrington Police Department and state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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