Ri Priest Arraigned on Sex Assault Charges
By Nancy Krause
November 21, 2014
The former pastor of St. Timothy’s Church in Warwick was arraigned Friday on five counts of first-degree sexual assault.
The Rev. Barry Meehan, 65, of West Warwick pleaded not guilty to the charges – which were handed up in a secret grand jury indictment – and released on $50,000 bail. In addition, he was ordered to surrender his passport, have no contact with the victim and was prohibited from leaving the state.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Meehan – while assigned to St. Mary Parish in Cranston – sexually assaulted a male over the age of 14 between the dates of April 17, 1986 and January 25, 1991. He’s also accused of sexually assaulting another male over the age of 14 while he was assigned to St. Augustine in Providence between January 25, 1991 and August 31, 1992.
Prosecutors said the investigation began after one of the accusers reported the abuse to the Diocese of Providence in December of 2012, which in turn reported it to the Rhode Island State Police.
About a month later, Meehan resigned as pastor of St. Timothy’s Church in Warwick in January 2013 and placed on administrative leave. At that time, the Catholic Diocese of Providence said it was the result of a credible allegation of sexual misconduct that allegedly took place more than 25 years ago.
Prosecutors said state police identified a second victim during the course of the investigation.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Diocese said the allegations against Meehan have been reported to the Vatican and that Bishop Thomas Tobin has asked Meehan be permanently removed from the priesthood.
“The Diocese of Providence takes very seriously all allegations of abuse and works closely with the Rhode Island State Police and other law enforcement agencies in accordance with the charter and diocesan policy when an allegation of abuse is reported,” the statement read. “The Diocese urges 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 the Rhode Island State Police Major Crimes Unit at 401-444-1000 or the diocesan Office of Education and Compliance at 401-941-0760.
Meehan is due back in court Dec. 11 for a pretrial conference.