Priest Goes on Trial for Sexual Assault

United Press International
August 13, 1986

The pastor of a Rhode Island church insisted on bathing and sleeping with two altar boys and a third teenager, according to testimony during the opening day of his trial on sexual assault charges.

The Rev. Armand Ventre went on trial Tuesday on charges he sexually molested the three teenage boys at the church rectory and his summer home in Glocester between February 1983 and September 1984.

Earlier this year, two other priests in the Providence Diocese pleaded guilty to sexual assault of young males and similar charges are pending against a religious brother.

Ventre, 54, the pastor of Our Lady of Good Help Church in Burrillville, is charged with sexually touching two youths under age 13 and an older boy who is mentally handicapped. Two of the youths are former altar boys at the church.

One of the victims, now 18, testified Tuesday that Ventre did not force them to take baths but made it seem as if the baths were expected. He also told the court he and the other boys were afraid of telling anyone about Ventre's actions.

"I just didn't want to say anything to anybody," the unidentified boy said.

"I was afraid."

Ventre, wearing a Roman collar and gray goatee, wiped tears from his eyes as prosecutor Robert Craven used his opening statement to accuse him of assaulting the youths.

The boy also testified that Ventre often spent weekends at the church rectory and at his summer cottage with other youths and frequently slept in the same bed with them.

Sexual touching of a boy over age 13 is a simple assault mismedeanor under Rhode Island law.


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