Former Deacon Charged with Child Molestation

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August 16, 2011

[with video]

A former Catholic deacon in West Warwick is accused of having sexual contact with three boys.

Laurence Gagnon of St. Joseph's Parish was arraigned in Kent County Court on Wednesday on three counts of second-degree child molestation. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail.

Gagnon, 71, was ordered not to have any contact with children. He is due back in court Sept. 19.

Police said Gagnon taught at St. Joseph's School, where the alleged incidents took place this spring.

The case was forwarded to the attorney general's office.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence said in a statement Wednesday that an earlier investigation did not reveal any criminal activity at that time, but found that Gagnon's conduct was unacceptable.

The diocese said Gagnon submitted his resignation June 18 and that he did not serve as a deacon or teacher in the parish after that.

A follow up investigation led to Wednesday's charges, the diocese said.

Police said Gagnon surrendered.

"The deacon was called into the police station. He came in voluntarily, spoke with detectives and did admit to the facts of the case," Detective Sgt. Scott Amaral said.

The diocese said Gagnon cleared a background check in February 2009. All diocesan, parish and school employees and volunteers are required to submit to and pass a background check every three years, according to the diocese.

The Diocese of Providence said anyone who wants to report allegations of abuse should call police or the Diocesan Office of Education and Compliance at 401-941-0760.


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