Massachusetts hospital's security chief placed on administrative leave

Officials at HealthAlliance hospital in Leominster yesterday suspended the security chief, Robert E. Mackie, following a news story in the Sunday Telegram detailing how he was found responsible in civil court for the sexual assault of a 49-year-old female co-worker while he was police chief at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner.

Mr. Mackie, 44, of Winchendon, was placed on administrative leave with pay as of yesterday morning, hospital officials said.

The suspension was announced at midday in an internal e-mail to employees of UMass Memorial - HealthAlliance Leominster Campus, which is part of the UMass Memorial Health Care system and which also has a campus in Fitchburg.

The children of the woman Mr. Mackie assaulted, identified in court records as the late Denise Partridge of Gardner, said they welcomed the hospital's move, but complained that it didn't go far enough.

"It's great that he's suspended and I think they should look into it further until they let him go," said Rebecca Partridge, of Gardner, a nursing student and certified nursing assistant.

Her brother, James Partridge, 32, of Fitchburg, said: "I'm glad they put him on administrative leave, but I think his pay should be taken. It seems like he keeps getting smacked on the wrist."

Mr. Mackie has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. He left Mount Wachusett Community College in 2005 after he was criminally charged with a felony count of indecent assault and battery on Ms. Partridge, 49, a mother of eight.

Ms. Partridge died last April of complications from heart disease.

A Worcester Superior Court judge ruled in January 2008 after Ms. Partridge sued Mr. Mackie that Mr. Mackie pressed his groin into her groin near an electrical closet at the college during a cancer walk fundraising event on June 11, 2005.

The indecent assault and battery charge was later reduced to simple assault and battery and continued without a finding after an admission to sufficient facts by the defendant. Mr. Mackie was ordered to complete a year of probation and attend a sexual harassment program.

David Duncan, the hospital's corporate vice president for facilities and engineering, said the Sunday Telegram story brought to light some issues in Mr. Mackie's past that the hospital was not aware of even after checking multiple job references when he was hired five months ago.

"We're investigating some of the new things," Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. Mackie also was named in at least one other sexual harassment complaint during his 10 years as police chief at the community college.

Taunja Golding, a former employee of the college's information technology department, alleged that Mr. Mackie sent her sexually harassing e-mails and made offensive remarks to her. She was interviewed by state police investigators looking into the criminal complaint against Mr. Mackie, according to court records.

It is unclear how the college resolved Ms. Golding's complaint. Daniel M. Asquino, the college's president, said at the time that a sexual harassment allegation against Mr. Mackie in mid-2005 was dismissed.

The judge in the civil case awarded Ms. Partridge $57,877 in damages, medical bills and court costs.

In an interview last week, Mr. Mackie denied any wrongdoing. He did acknowledge that he had not paid any money toward the damages awarded Mrs. Partridge, and added that he did not intend to pay any of the civil judgment until he could obtain a new trial in his case that would be heard by a jury.

Richard Bardi, a lawyer who represented Ms. Partridge and is setting up her estate, has vowed to collect from Mr. Mackie.

Contact Shaun Sutner by e-mail at