St. Joseph’s School Principal, Parents Meet after Arrest

Providence Journal
August 16, 2011

WEST WARWICK — The parking lot at St. Joseph Church was full Thursday evening as parents of students who attend the Catholic parish’s school showed up to get more information following the arrest of a church deacon on charges of child molestation.

School principal Richard Keenan, who apparently sent a message to parents earlier this week, declined a reporter’s request to attend the meeting, which was held in the hilltop church at the corner of Wakefield and Providence streets.

Parents walking into the church politely declined to comment, with several saying “It’s too soon.”

West Warwick police Detective Sgt. Scott Amaral said Wednesday that the school contacted the police at the end of June to report an incident of a staff member’s inappropriate behavior regarding three male, middle-school-age students.

Deacon Laurence Gagnon, 71, of Warwick, appeared Wednesday in Kent County District Court, where bail was set at $30,000 and he was ordered to have no contact with anyone under the age of 16.

St. Joseph’s School, which is for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 8, is next door to the church.

A sign on the church lawn proclaims the parochial school’s accreditation status with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges


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