Former priest accused of sexual assault dies

NBC 10
December 27, 2016

Rev. Barry Meehan is arraigned in Providence Superior Court on five counts of first-degree sexual assault, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

[with video]

A former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence who was accused of sexual assault has died.

According to an online obituary posted Tuesday by the Providence Journal, 67-year-old Rev. Barry Meehan of West Warwick passed away “suddenly” Dec. 8.

The medical examiner's office confirmed to NBC 10 News that he died due to a heart attack.

The newspaper reports that Meehan was scheduled for a pre-trial conference Jan. 4.

In 2015, Meehan pleaded not guilty in Superior Court to five counts of first-degree sexual assault. Meehan was later released on bail, as well as ordered to surrender his passport and to stay away from the alleged victims.

An indictment noted that Meehan was accused of sexually assaulting a boy over 14 years old between April 1986 and January 1991 while assigned to St. Mary Parish in Cranston.

He was also accused of sexually assaulting another boy between January 1991 and August 1992 while assigned to St. Augustine Parish in Providence.

Prosecutors said one of the alleged victims reported the abuse allegations to the diocese in December 2012 and that the diocese contacted the state police. The second alleged victim was identified during the investigation.

"His response is, 'I didn't do this. I'm factually innocent.' There's been a grand jury investigation. They've made a determination they're going to return an indictment," defense attorney Kevin Bristow said in 2015.

Meehan resigned from St. Timothy's Parish in Warwick in January 2013 and was placed on administrative leave. The diocese removed his permission to function as a priest.

The diocese said Meehan was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1978 and served the following assignments: Saints Peter & Paul, West Warwick, 1978-1980; St. Mary, Cranston, 1980-1991; St. Augustine, Providence, 1991-1996; St. John the Baptist 1996-2002, and also St. James, West Warwick 2000-2002. He was appointed pastor of St. Timothy in 2002.



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