2010 Sex-abuse Lawsuit against Providence Diocese, Dormant for 8 Years, Remains Open
June 13, 2019
In a surprise development that came to light Thursday, the day of a Senate vote on sex-abuse legislation, a state court spokesman confirmed that a 2010 case filed by Sen. Donna Nesselbush’s law firm against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence is still open.
With the case number — “PC 2010-6437” — inexplicably missing from the court’s online registry of civil cases until The Journal inquired about it, court spokesman Craig Berke said the case will be brought to the attention of the presiding justice of the Superior Court, Alice Gibney.
Nesselbush is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill to give victims more time to sue the molesters who sexually abused them as children, and the institutions — including the Catholic Church — that allegedly shielded them from exposure. While the legislation is not church-specific, many of the victims who testified, including another lawmaker’s now 66-year-old sister, told of sexual abuse by their parish priests.
Nesselbush referred questions about the pending legal case to a law partner who has not yet responded to inquiries.
The mystery court case centers on defrocked priest Michael LaMountain, who on Jan. 29, 1999, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting five boys from the 1970s to the 1990s. Under a plea agreement, LaMountain was sentenced to nine 12-year suspended sentences, to run concurrently.
With his plea, LaMountain, now dead, became the sixth Rhode Island priest convicted that decade of sexually abusing children, at a point in time when there were 38 people suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, saying that the church hierarchy did not supervise its priests.