EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

June 19, 2014

Prosecutors cited security concerns over Chism hospitalization

DANVERS — Since shortly after Philip Chism’s arrest in the slaying of his math teacher last October, prosecutors have had strong concerns about security at the facility where he was being held.

In court documents unsealed yesterday by a judge, prosecutor Kate MacDougall said she “would be concerned if the defendant was going to be alone with female staff at the facility.”

Read the unsealed documents.

Chism, now 15, is awaiting trial as an adult on a murder charge in the slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, and as a youthful offender on rape and robbery charges.

Because of state laws concerning where juvenile defendants can be held, Chism was being held at the Department of Youth Services Metropolitan Detention Center in Dorchester.

In documents filed in Salem Superior Court earlier this month and unsealed at the request of media, MacDougall said she expressed her concerns about having adequate security around Chism. She said she was worried about the potential danger Chism posed to female employees, based on “all the facts known to me at the time.”

The DYS official “advised me that she would make a note of these concerns,” MacDougall said in the memorandum.

But on June 2, staff who were supposed to be watching Chism at the DYS Metropolitan Detention Center did not see him as he crept along a common hallway, armed with a pencil, crouched down and out of the view of observers.

Prosecutors say Chism, having taken steps to elude the staff assigned to watch him, walked out of a “downtime” room, followed a female counselor into a locker room/bathroom area, and attacked her.

Chism choked and beat the woman, whose screams brought other staff to the area.

Following the incident, Chism was taken to Boston Medical Center.

Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney’s office, said charges have not yet been filed in the incident, which remains under investigation by state police.

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