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Date: 10/26/2015 11:53 AM PDT

For 2nd time in month, Springfield caretaker denies assault on patient By Jack Flynn | jflynn@repub.com on August 04, 2015 at 7:00 AM, updated August 07, 2015 at 7:40 PM SPRINGFIELD – A state-funded personal care attendant was charged with assaulting his patient early Monday after she allegedly refused to give him money for crack cocaine. Harry Rentas Jr., 47, of Springfield, pleaded innocent to domestic assault and battery during his arraignment in Springfield District Court. It was the second time in four weeks that that Rentas has been charged with attacking his 53-year-old patient, according to court records. He pleaded innocent on July 9 to assaulting the same woman, who was also his girlfriend, according to police records. In the latest case, Springfield police arrested Rentas about 3:30 a.m. after responding to a 911 call from the woman's Hemlock Court home. In a statement to police, the woman said the defendant and his 11-month-old pit bull assaulted her when she refused to give Rentas money to buy crack cocaine. Assistant District Attorney John Wendel asked Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega to revoke his bail on the July 9 case and impose cash bail on the new charge. The woman also appeared in court to request a restraining order. Testifying under oath, she said Rentas not only punched her several times and flipped over her couch, he also ordered his dog to attack her. The dog complied, biting her several times on the upper torso, the woman said. "I'm the one who feeds him," she said, referring to the pit bull. "He was confused; he didn't know if he should attack me or attack (Rentas)," she said. The woman requested a lifetime restraining order for Rentas, explaining, "I don't want (to see him) ever again." But defense lawyer Randy Milou pointed out that the woman had a seven-page criminal record that includes a charge of falsely reporting a crime in an unrelated case. "She has done this before," Milou said, adding his client has only been named in one previous restraining order. Rentas never touched the woman, Milou added. In the arrest report, Rentas is described as an employee of the Amherst-based Stavros Center for Independent Living. But a Stavros spokesman said that Rentas was hired by the woman, and was never a Stavros employee. Under state law, disabled or elderly people are allowed to hire their own personal care attendants to help with daily tasks like bathing or shopping. Agencies such as Stavros administer the state-funded program, issuing paychecks on behalf of the patients, but have no power to conduct background checks or otherwise screen the attendants, the Stavros spokesman said. The program has come under mounting criticism following reports of abuses. Rentas, who is listed at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 230 pounds, has several alias, including "Harry the Hook," according to his arrest record. At the prosecutor's request, Vega revoked the defendant's bail in the July 9 case, and ordered him held for 90 days at the Hampden County Correctional Center. She also issued a protective order barring Rentas from having any contact with the woman for one year. Under the order, Rentas must surrender any firearms he owns. Rentas is due back in court on Aug. 11 for a pretrial hearing.


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     (413) 781-5400