Former Woonsocket priest charged amid review of diocese records


November 5, 2020

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office has been examining records handed over by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence for close to 18 months, and the first criminal charges in connection with that review came on Thursday.

A grand jury indicted John Petrocelli, a former Woonsocket priest, on charges of abusing three boys under the age of 14 between 1981 and 1990. He was charged with three counts of first-degree child molestation and nine counts of second-degree child molestation.

Petrocelli entered a not guilty plea and bail was set at $50,000 with surety. He was ordered to have no contact with the three alleged victims or any children under 16.

Petrocelli had served as an assistant pastor at Holy Family Church in Woonsocket, but was on the diocese’s List of Credibly Accused Clergy and is no longer working as a priest. The diocese said Petrocelli was removed from the ministry in 2002 because of “credible allegations of abuse.”

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