Lewdness charged

WESTFIELD – A city man has been arraigned on a charge of open and gross lewdness after an incident in Stanley Park and will return to Westfield District Court on Aug. 27.
The charge was filed against Martin D. O’Connell, 29, of 25 Old Park Lane, after city police investigated a June 30 incident in the park in which he allegedly exposed himself to two adult women.
Officers Juanita Mejias and Jeffrey Vigneault responded to a call from a park ranger and were told that the suspect had been identified but had left the park.
Vigneault sought O’Connell at his Old Park Lane home and served him with a ‘No trespassing’ order barring him from the park grounds.
The incident was subsequently investigated by Mejias and Det. Daniel Gustafson and Gustafson reports, in a document filed in support of a criminal complaint at the district court, that O’Connell drove up to two women and asked them for directions to the flower garden.
When the women approached his vehicle they found that O’Connell’s genitals were exposed.
A supervisory officer said that the women realized immediately that the man was hoping for a reaction from them and did not oblige him.
The women did tell a park ranger, Gustafson reports, “how they were shocked and alarmed” and the ranger called police.
Gustafson collected statements from the two women, aged 24 and 28. Upon completing his investigation, he filed a criminal complaint and O’Connell was arraigned in district court before Judge William P. Hadley who allowed O’Connell’s release on his personal recognizance pending an Aug. 27 hearing.
O’Connell’s arrest has caused concerns due to his job as a paraprofessional working one-on-one with autistic children at Fort Meadow School.
Suzanne Scallion, the city’s superintendent of schools, pointed out that school is not in session and O’Connell is not a summer employee so no immediate response is necessary.
She said that school department policy is to immediately suspend any employee charged with any offense which could possibly impact students.
She said “we have not been officially informed” of the charge lodged against O’Connell but said “He will be suspended and will not be around any child in the Westfield school system until the issue has been resolved.”
She pointed out the O’Connell has constitutional rights but said “the safety of our students is our highest priority.”
She said that, if necessary, the school department will engage independent counsel to guide the department through the process as O’Connell’s case is adjudicated.
“In the interim, I can guarantee that he will not be working for us” she said.

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