Hospital's security chief has tainted past

Family of previous victim frustrated to see man head hospital security after questionable past

The former police chief at Mount Wachusett Community College, who left the school in 2005 after being charged with a felony count of indecent assault and battery on a female co-worker and later was let go from two other law enforcement jobs after authorities found out about that case, is working as security chief for Leominster HealthAlliance hospital.

Informed last week that Robert E. Mackie was the hospital's head of security, the son of the woman identified by investigators as the victim in the Mount Wachusett case was enraged.

"In all fairness, he shouldn't be interacting up close and personal with patients in a hospital," said James Partridge, 32, of Fitchburg. "I don't think he deserves a place in any facility where he holds authority as a security guy. You uphold an oath to serve and protect, not serve and violate."

His mother, Denise Partridge, who was a maintenance worker at the Gardner college, died last April of complications from heart disease. She was 49.

Employed there for 10 years, Mr. Mackie, 44, of Winchendon, left Mount Wachusett in 2005 after he was charged with the attack on Mrs. Partridge. Mr. Mackie declined to discuss reasons for his departure from the school, but college president Daniel M. Asquino said his leaving had nothing to do with the sex assault charge.

The following year Mr. Mackie was let go from positions at Assumption College in Worcester and the Barre Police Department after officials learned about the Partridge case.

The charge eventually was reduced to assault and battery, to which Mr. Mackie admitted to sufficient facts for a guilty finding in January 2007. The case was dismissed last year after he finished a year of probation that included mandatory completion of a sexual harassment program and staying away from Mrs. Partridge.

Mrs. Partridge, mother of eight, sued Mr. Mackie in civil court in July 2007 for assault, battery, negligence, emotional distress and violating her civil rights. On Jan. 4, 2008, four months before she died, a Worcester Superior Court judge ruled in her favor and awarded her $57,877 for damages, medical bills and court costs.

Associate Justice Bruce R. Henry ruled that Mr. Mackie sexually assaulted Mrs. Partridge June 11, 2005, near an electrical closet in the school's fitness center during the Relay for Life cancer fundraising walk. The judge also concluded that the attack worsened Mrs. Partridge's pre-existing mental and medical conditions.

"Mackie pushed his groin into her groin and Partridge could feel his penis against her body," Judge Henry wrote in a three-page decision. "Mackie continued to hold Partridge in that position for approximately five minutes. Partridge did not consent to that contact and did not invite it."

Mr. Mackie, father of four, maintained in an interview last week that because he could not afford a lawyer and was forced to represent himself in the civil case, he was "denied" the right to a jury trial. He said he intends to appeal the ruling and demand a new hearing.

Ordinarily, notice of intent to appeal a civil court ruling must be filed within 30 days of the decision. Mr. Mackie, however, said it is his understanding that he can appeal after court action is taken to collect the money he was ordered to pay.

Mr. Mackie was the subject of at least one other sexual harassment complaint while he was employed at the community college. It also was filed in 2005 by a former employee, Taunja Golding, who alleged that Mr. Mackie sent her harassing e-mails and made unwelcome sexual remarks to her.

Ms. Golding, an acquaintance of Mrs. Partridge, also was interviewed by state police investigators who brought the original sex assault charge against Mr. Mackie, according to court documents.

Leominster HealthAlliance officials last week stood by Mr. Mackie, who was named manager of security for the hospital last September.

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