Pawtucket Priest Resigns after Allegations of Sexual Abuse

By Thomas J. Morgan
Providence Journal
August 25, 2009

PROVIDENCE — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence announced on Monday that the Rev. Kevin R. Fisette has resigned as pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Pawtucket because a "credible allegation" of sexual abuse of a minor surfaced after more than 20 years.

Father Fisette has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending a Vatican review, and suspended from performing public ministry, the diocese said. The situation was explained to parishioners at Mass on Sunday, the diocese said.

State police investigated the allegations that date to 1981-82 in April and found that "they were credible," said Capt. David Neill, state police detective commander.

Prosecutors found "there was not a viable case to file" due to statute of limitations and inconsistencies in the complainant's recollection of events, said Michael J. Healey, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

At the time, Healey said, the state law did not recognize child molestation, and charges of second- and third-degree sexual assault carried a three-year statute of limitation from the time the alleged crime was committed.

According to the diocese, Father Fisette was ordained on Nov. 21, 1981, and has served in the following assignments: Rhode Island Hospital chaplain 1981-1982; St. Mary, Cranston, 1982-1985; St. Catherine, Warwick, 1985-1990; St. James, West Warwick; and Bishop Hendricken High School 1990-1993; Pawtuxet Valley CYO spiritual director 1990-1993; Saints Peter and Paul, West Warwick, 1993-1997; and Holy Name of Jesus, Providence 1997-2004. He was appointed pastor of St. Leo the Great in 2004.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement criticizing Bishop Thomas J. Tobin for not notifying the public sooner.

"For almost six months, Bishop Tobin and his staff recklessly and callously chose silence over warning and opted to alert no one about a credible allegation of child sexual abuse against a Catholic priest," Barbara Dorris, director of SNAP, said.

She added, "Tobin had a moral and civic duty to promptly warn the public and his parishioners about this serious allegation."

The diocese urged anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or with credible knowledge of such abuse by any member of the church to report the information to local law enforcement or the Diocesan Office of Education and Compliance at (401) 941-0760.

With reports from Maria Armental



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