Berkshire DA: 50 investigators descend on Eagleton School in student abuse investigation

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Some 50 local, state and federal law enforcement officers on Saturday evening carried out a search of Eagleton School into allegations of physical and emotional abuse on students by staff at the school, according to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.

The news release, issued at 8:15 p.m. Saturday by the DA's office, did not indicate if any arrests were made.

District Attorney David F. Capeless, however, called it "a terrible situation."

Located on a 40-acre campus at 446 Monterey Road, Eagleton School is a private, year-round residential school for boys and young men with special needs including autism and Asperger syndrome and other cognitive, behavioral, and developmental disabilities. It opened in 1977.

Capeless, who oversaw the raid, praised the work of lead investigators Jonathan Finnerty, a Great Barrington police officer, and Gregory Denys, a Massachusetts state trooper.

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"Their persistence and professionalism uncovered this terrible situation and will allow us to seek justice on behalf of these vulnerable victims," Capeless said.

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Personnel from the State Department of Early Education and Care accompanied investigators and were on scene to ensure the safety of the students and the continued, proper operation of the school, according to the DA's office.

Today's events are part of an investigation into allegations of physical and emotional abuse on students by staff at the school that was begun by the Great Barrington Police Department earlier this month and has involved multiple agencies," Great Barrington Police Chief William Walsh Jr. said in a statement issued Saturday night.

"Detectives went to the Eagleton School [on Saturday] to gather evidence related to the investigation. Police will remain at the school for the immediate future to ensure that the collection of evidence related to the investigation proceeds in a thorough, coordinated, and orderly manner," Walsh said.

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In a joint statement, Walsh and Great Barrington Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin stated "there is absolutely no public safety danger to the community."

"Great Barrington is home to a number of public and private schools that serve a diverse population of students across a broad spectrum, and we want the community — and the parents at home — to be aware of a police investigation that is ongoing," Walsh said. "However, there is no danger and no threats have been made to the safety of anyone. More information will be released as soon as it is available."

Walsh also recognized Officer Finnerty for his work as the department's lead investigator on the case.

The agencies involved included investigators from the FBI, Massachusetts State Police, Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, and local police from the Great Barrington, Williamstown and Dalton as members of the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force. Also participating were personnel from the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section and the Digital Evidence and Multimedia Section.


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