| Priest Gets Probation
after No-Contest Plea to Sex-Assault Count
The Rev. Joseph A. Abruzzese was accused of fondling a 16-year-old boy in Roger Williams Park
By Bob Jagolinzer
Providence Journal-Bulletin Staff Writer
September 24, 1994
Providence - The Rev. Joseph A. Abruzzese, former assistant pastor at St. Anthony Church in North Providence, yesterday pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree sexual assault.
Superior Court Judge Mark A. Pfeiffer sentenced Abruzzese, 35, to five years' probation and ordered him to participate in counseling. Also, he was ordered not to have any contact with his victim, a 16-year-old boy, and agreed to pay the cost of any counseling the youth might require.
The no contest plea was the result of a plea bargain worked out between Abruzzese and the attorney general's office, said Stephen White, spokesman for Atty. Gen. Jeffrey B. Pine.
Abruzzese was arrested last November, following an incident Oct. 29th in Roger Williams Park.
According to a police report, Abruzzese, who was dressed in a blue jumpsuit, approached the boy and asked him if he wanted to make some money. The boy said no.
The youth said Abruzzese grabbed his buttocks and genitals. When he tried to get away, Abruzzese tightened his grip and exposed himself.
The youth, who worked as a groundskeeper at the park, broke away and
ran back to the greenhouse. He told fellow workers what happened, and
they took down the license plate on Abruzzese's car. Police traced him
through the registration.
The Rev. William O'Connell, former pastor of St. Mary Church in Bristol, pleaded no contest in 1986 to 26 charges of having sexual contact with three teenage boys. He served a year in a work-release program.
A charge of second-degree sexual assault is pending against the Rev. James M. Silva, who allegedly molested youngsters at four parishes in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Silva and O'Connell also are among seven priests who are being sued in
state and federal court for alleged molestations during the last 30 years.
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