Former Catholic Priest Dies before Facing Sex Assault Trial
January 2, 2017
|Former priest Barry Meehan of the Providence, R.I. diocese, died Dec. 8 before he could face trial over sexual assault charges. (Credit: AP.)|
A former Roman Catholic priest awaiting trial on sexual assault charges has died.
The Rhode Island Medical Examinerís Office says Barry Meehan died of a heart attack on December 8. He was 67.
Meehan pleaded not guilty in 2014 to five counts of first-degree sexual assault on two young men in the late 1980s and early 1990s while Meehan was a priest at parishes in Providence and Cranston.
He resigned as pastor of St. Timothyís Church in Warwick in 2013 after state police conducted a joint investigation with the Providence Catholic Diocese beginning in 2012. The Vatican laicized Meehan last year.
A state police investigation led to Meehanís arrest and indictment in November 2014 on five charges of felony sexual assault in the first degree, involving two alleged victims. The allegations dated to the 1980s and early 1990s. Meehan pleaded not guilty, was released on bail and ordered not to contact the alleged victims.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartinís office says the charges will be formally dismissed on January 4, which was Meehanís next scheduled court date, because the defendant is now deceased.
Meehan lived in West Warwick. The Catholic Diocese of Providence had no comment on Meehanís passing, said spokeswoman Carolyn E. Cronin.
Cronin did say, however, that Meehan was one of five priests removed from ministry over sex abuse charges since Bishop Thomas J. Tobin came to the Providence diocese in 2005, and the only one to have been formally laicized.