July 24, 2019
By Rachel Nunes
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office is investigating nearly seven decades of sexual abuse to children by Roman Catholic priests in the diocese of Providence. On Tuesday, the two offices signed a memorandum of understanding, giving Neronha’s office and Rhode Island State Police access to records of allegations dating back to 1950.
Together with State Police, Neronah will review the records to determine if any cases can be prosecuted and to ensure no credibly accused priests are still actively serving. The two agencies will then provide the diocese feedback on ways to improve reporting procedures and policies in the future, as well as to determine how to diocese responded to past allegations of child sexual abuse.
“While this voluntary, additional disclosure by the Diocese is an important step forward in our review, much additional work remains, Neronha said. “We will not hesitate to take any additional steps that may prove necessary to fully determine the scope of misconduct here and take appropriate action. It is my intention to be as transparent as possible regarding our findings, within the limits of current Rhode Island law. I am grateful to Colonel Manni for his commitment to partnering with the Office to undertake and complete this review.”
Neronha’s investigation has been ongoing since 2016, when a letter of understanding between the two offices provided access to past records. Tuesday’s memorandum provided Neronha further access to all reocrds of sexual abuse allegations since Jan. 1, 1950. The diocese will provide the records on a rolling basis.
The records include a recently released list of 50 credibly accused clergy, published by the diocese July 1.
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