Providence Diocese Says Clergy-victim Group's Allegations against Smithfield Priest Unfounded
By Mark Reynolds
March 24, 2014
|Barbara Blaine, of Chicago, stands outside of the Diocese of Providence offices, holding a photograph of herself as a child during the time she was being abused by a priest during picketing at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.|
A news conference given Monday by members of a victims group prompted the Diocese of Providence to publicly declare that a diocesan investigation had cleared a Smithfield pastor and that the allegation against him "was deemed to lack any credibility."
The priest, whom the diocese named, "is an exemplary pastor and continues to enjoy the total confidence and support of the Diocese of Providence," says the statement issued late Monday afternoon.
The statement says allegations against the priest were reported to state police and "carefully investigated" by the Diocesan Review Board.
Hours before, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had called on Bishop Thomas J. Tobin to give a full explanation of allegations that the diocese had related to the Rhode Island State Police in an April 2012 letter.
SNAP's founder and president, Barbara Blaine, who has traveled from Chicago to visit New England, handed out copies of that letter, which the organization had printed from the website of Channel 10.
The letter, which is partially redacted, makes it clear that allegations, dating back to the 1980s, were made against a Smithfield priest, but the name of the particular clergyman is blacked out.
Blaine named the priest in question and asked Bishop Tobin to "step up" and say if the person - who was never criminally charged - is suspected of sexual abuse of children or if the diocese has cleared him.
"We know Bishop Tobin has expressed a commitment to protecting children in this diocese and we know he can do more," said Blaine.
Said the news release: "The diocese encourages anyone with any new information regarding allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors to report them to state police or local law enforcement immediately. The Diocese of Providence welcomes any and all efforts to collaborate with law enforcement officials about these matters, as we have done in the past."