Lowell Judge refuses to drop charges for patient accused of attacking nurse

LOWELL, Mass. — “My biggest fear was that he was going to be dismissed and let out and be allowed to be in the general public where he could potentially hurt somebody,” said Lowell General Hospital Nurse Grace Politis.

Politis scored a legal victory Friday when a Lowell District Court Judge refused to drop criminal charges against a patient who nearly killed her on the job last summer.

Jean Paul Durand, a 66-year-old homeless man, is charged with hitting Politis in the head twice with a fire extinguisher in the mental health unit at the Saints Campus of Lowell General Hospital in July 2021.

Politis suffered a bad brain bleed and a second nurse was also injured in the attack.

Durand is facing 2 counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and another charge of assault with a dangerous weapon after he has twice been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

In court, Durand’s lawyer argued that the criminal charges against Durand be dropped because he is being held civilly and he is mentally ill.

But the DA argued if Durand takes his medication, his condition improves. He added, that the public could not be protected if Durand is released too soon.

Durand was at Lowell General because, days before, the attack on Politis, he allegedly attacked his housemates in Chelmsford with a metal baseball bat.

The judge agreed that, for now, the criminal charges will stand. Durand is still held at Bridgewater and is due next in court on January 20th.

At Lowell District Court, nurses from Lowell and Mass General Hospital attended the hearing in a show of support for Politis.

The nurses broke into applause and Politis wept when the judge refused to drop the charges.

Outside the courthouse, Politis said she hopes this incident will lead to greater safeguards for health care workers.

“I would like to see the health care system be supportive and have justice. And if we do get hurt at work, people are held accountable. It happens so often. A lot of people don’t speak out about it,” Politis said.

Durand’s next court appearance is on January 20th.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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