Charges dropped against man who took woman from Newton nursing home

NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A judge has dropped criminal charges against a man who took his friend from a nursing home in Newton.

David Collignon, 55, took his friend Beth Birnbaum out of the nursing home back in May, leaving her wheelchair in the driveway. The two drove down to Florida while in Massachusetts, police searched for Birnbaum, afraid she had been kidnapped and was without her medication.

“To find out that all this nightmare was brewing behind our backs was crazy,” said Collignon.

Collignon said he met Birnbaum in 1979 and they were in a relationship for 17 years. He said he considers her his best friend. Birnbaum had been living at the nursing home since she suffered a stroke and while Collignon was visiting her from Florida, he said she asked him to help her leave the facility.

Two days after he took Birnbaum from the nursing home, they returned to Boston, where Collignon brought her to Mass General Hospital to be checked out. Collignon was arrested and charged with elder abuse.

The Middlesex County District Attorney said Birnbaum was found to be mentally competent and told investigatoes Collignon “acted at her request to remove her from the facility.”

“I was a friend there for her,” said Collignon.

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