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Officer accused of beating mother

Peabody police force issues suspension

The elderly mother of a Peabody police officer was in critical condition in intensive care at Salem Hospital yesterday while her son was arraigned on charges that he beat her on Thanksgiving in the home they share.

Peabody police arrested officer George Sideris yesterday afternoon about 24 hours after officers answered an emergency call and found a bruised and battered Melpomeni Sideris, 73, drifting in and out of consciousness.

The woman's condition deteriorated quickly after emergency workers arrived at the Ellsworth Road house about noon Thursday, a dispatcher said. She was alert at first, but ''by the time they took her out, they had to use a bag to resuscitate her," said firefighter David Limongiello, the dispatcher on duty at the time.

''The crew that was initially at the scene was told that she had fallen earlier in the week and that's how she had gotten the bruising," Limongiello said.

Sideris, 33, pleaded not guilty to assault and battery on an elderly person and, at a hearing yesterday in Peabody District Court, was ordered held without bail. Peabody police said in a prepared statement that Sideris has been suspended from the force.

The beating and Sideris's arrest surprised some in the neighborhood of southwest Peabody, where Sideris's mother was often seen walking a white fluffy dog.

''She is a very quiet little lady . . . sweet little thing, tiny little thing," said neighbor Ellen Gaudette. ''I can't even fathom anybody doing that to another human being, much less their own mother. I just can't. And a policemen at that. I don't understand any of it."

After George Sideris went to the Peabody police station yesterday to give a statement about the incident, State Police assigned to the Essex district attorney's office arrested him at 1:55 p.m.

Peabody police have begun an internal investigation in cooperation with the office of Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

At the hearing, Sideris was ordered held until a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Afterward, he was taken to the Lahey Clinic, where he was listed in fair condition. He was also placed on a suicide watch, said Stephen O'Connell, spokesman for Blodgett's office.

James Rennick, Sideris's lawyer, did not return calls seeking comment last night.

Sideris has worked for the Peabody Police Department since January 1999, first as a dispatcher, and since 2000 as a full-time officer, the department said.

Neil Gray, who lives next door to the Siderises, said he never saw any indication of difficulties at his neighbor's home.

Globe correspondent Kaitlin Thaney contributed to this report. Jack Encarnacao can be reached at jencarnacao@globe.com.

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