Parents Meet Following Former Deacon's Arrest

By Brian Crandall
Turn to 10
August 11, 2011

Parents from the St. Joseph School in West Warwick met with school leaders and police on Thursday, a day after the arrest of a former deacon on child molestation charges.

Laurence Gagnon, 71, a teacher at the school and a deacon at the church parish, was charged Wednesday with three counts of second-degree child molestation. Police said he had sexual contact with three boys in the spring.

Police said Gagnon admitted to the facts of the case.

Parents who spoke with NBC 10 said they were satisfied with the school's response.

"I think that they handled it very well. It's an unfortunate situation. Nobody wants to hear that something like this is going on in our community. But I think they did a really good job of handling it. Like somebody had mentioned, the chief had mentioned that 25 years ago this would have been swept under the rug. So, I think they did everything they could to bring it to our attention," said parent Kim Johnson.

Some parents in the meeting were reportedly upset, but others defended the school.

"The problem is gone as far as we're concerned. It happens. People seem to have this alienated from any other walks of life other than the Catholic church and the Catholic school, and that's nonsense. What was done is despicable, but it's gone," parent Ralph Madonna said.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence said Wednesday that it reported the allegations against Gagnon to police in June and that Gagnon resigned at that time.


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