Priest Gets 3 Years on Sex-Assault Charges

By Jack Perry
Providence Journal
September 6, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- The former pastor of St. Mary Church in Cranston was sentenced today to serve three years in prison after he pleaded no contest in Superior Court to charges that he sexually assaulted two teenage altar boys.

The Rev. Daniel M. Azzarone Jr., who had been free on $75,000 bail since his April 2002 arraignment, was immediately sent to the Adult Correctional Institutions after he pleaded nolo contendere to two counts of first-degree sexual assault, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

If the case had gone to trial, Assistant Attorney General J. Patrick Youngs III would have presented evidence that Azzarone, 54, sexually assaulted one of the victims over the course of a year, between November 2000 and November 2001, and the other victim between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31, 2001, according to the attorney general's office.

The victims were both parishoners of the church who served as altar servers, and the assaults took place in Cranston, according to the attorney general's office.

Both of the victims testified at court today.

Azzarone was placed on administrative leave upon his November 2001 arrest, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. He has not functioned publicly as a priest since then nor has he lived in a church facility, the diocese said.

Providence Superior Court Associate Justice Daniel A. Procaccini also ordered that Azzarone serve seven years' probation after completing his prison sentence. He must stay away from the victims, receive sex offender counseling and register as a sexual offender upon his release.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence said in a statement: "While this brings the legal proceedings to an end, the process of healing deep wounds that remain must continue. This has been a difficult situation for all the parties involved. I offer my prayers for all who have suffered the pain of such abuse and renew my commitment to do everything I can to protect young people from such harm."

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch said in a statement: "In this case, as happens all too often, an adult in a position of authority violated much more than the faith and trust of two young people who admired him. Thanks to the courage they maintained throughout and that they exhibited today, the victims contributed greatly to ensuring that justice was served. They are the ones to be admired."

Azzarone was ordained in 1978. He has also served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Providence, St. Clement, Warwick, St. Paul, Cranston, and St. Ann, Providence.