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Update: 5 Arrested In Connection With Abuse Allegations At Private Berkshire School

Update at 6:20 p.m. Jan. 31: Five people have been arrested in connection with allegations of physical and emotional abuse on students by staff at Eagleton School in Great Barrington, Mass.

According to the Berkshire District Attorney’s office 47-year-old Brian Puntin of Lenoxdale, 51-year-old Peter Meadow of Lenox, 54-year-old James Swift of Pittsfield, 34-year-old Juan Pablo Lopez-Lucas of Pittsfield and 41-year-old Debra Davis of Great Barrington were arrested following the execution of a search warrant Saturday night.

Puntin, Meadow and Swift were each charged with one count of assault and battery of a disabled person.

Lopez-Lucas was charged with one count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and one count of assault and battery of a disabled person.

Davis was charged with one count of intimidation of a witness or other person and obstruction of justice.

All were released on personal recognizance. They are expected to be arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington Monday morning.

“The investigators who carried out the execution of the search warrant Saturday night at the Eagleton School should be commended for their professionalism and sensitivity to the students’ privacy,” Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless said in a statement Sunday evening. “The operation was conducted with minimum presence, and reports back to me indicated that normal operations at the school were not disrupted and the students were unaware of the law enforcement presence.” 

Capeless says this is an on-going investigation and asks anyone with information to call Massachusetts State Police at 413-499-1112.

Thomas Weber, the Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, says agency staff at the school Saturday night.

“The health and well-being of the children at Eagleton School is of utmost importance to EEC,” Weber said in a statement released by the Berkshire District Attorney’s office. “The Department of Early Education and Care is overseeing and actively monitoring the program’s operations and will continue to do so to ensure the children remain safe.  EEC is working with law enforcement and is conducting an investigation into the program jointly with the Department of Children and Families.  EEC will take further action as warranted in response to our on-going investigation.”  

A private residential school for boys with special needs in western Massachusetts is being investigated after allegations of physical and emotional abuse of students by staff members.

The Berkshire District Attorney's office said on Saturday evening approximately 50 state, local, and federal law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the Eagleton School in Great Barrington.

In  a statement, District Attorney David Capeless called the case a "terrible situation" and praised the work of lead investigators Great Barrington Police Officer Jonathan Finnerty and Massachusetts State Trooper Gregory Denys.

Investigators were joined by personnel from the state Department of Early Education and Care to ensure students' safety and "continued, proper operation of the school."

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org