Neronha Strikes Agreement with Diocese of Providence to Review 70 Years of Records

July 23, 2019

Bishop Thomas Tobin

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha announced the State of Rhode Island has signed an agreement to gain access to the Diocese of Providence's records dating back to the 1950s in an effort to find additional cases of sexual abuse by church priests and staff.

As part of an ongoing review of allegations of clergy child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Providence, the Attorney General has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence.

“While this voluntary, additional disclosure by the diocese is an important step forward in our review, much additional work remains. We will not hesitate to take any additional steps that may prove necessary to fully determine the scope of misconduct here and take appropriate action,” said Neronha.

About MOU

This MOU expands on and supplements a 2016 Letter of Understanding between the Office and the Diocese dated August 30, 2016, by providing fuller access to historical records.

In October of 2018, GoLocal reported that the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a national non-profit, has called on Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha to commit to investigating the Diocese of Providence.

Alliance for Safe Communities, a Rhode Island-based organization advocating for the victims of diocesan sexual abuse, says it has reached out to former U.S. Attorney Neronha regarding his unwillingness to commit to an investigation of the Catholic Diocese sex abuse scandal.

"According to, there are at least 38 priests who worked in Rhode Island who have been accused of abuse. We fear there may be more. We hope that both candidates will seriously consider the importance of this investigation, especially as they enter the final weeks of their campaign," said SNAP.

Now, in more than one dozen states across the country, attorney generals have launched investigations into the role of the respective dioceses and cover-up of abuse.

Attorney General’s Investigation

The Attorney General’s review, along with the Rhode Island State Police, is intended to identify any prosecutable cases; ensure there are no credibly accused clergy in active ministry, and provide input into improvements of the Diocese’s current policies and procedures for preventing and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Its objectives include determining how the Diocese responded to past reports of child sexual abuse.

“It is my intention to be as transparent as possible regarding our findings, within the limits of current Rhode Island law. I am grateful to Colonel Manni for his commitment to partnering with the Office to undertake and complete this review,” said Neronha.

Files provided will include the recently released list of 50 credibly and publicly accused clergy, as well as previously collected files for the period of 1971-2007 (related to prior litigation).

In addition, all files related to allegations of child sexual abuse that are maintained in the Diocese Office of Compliance, as well as any other files requested by the Attorney General, will be provided.

Victim Support

Victims are strongly encouraged to reach out to Jonathan Elliott, Rhode Island State Police detective, at (401)-444-1372 to report clergy abuse. Victims may also contact Day One’s Support Line at 401-421-4100 x444 or email to be connected with clinical support and advocacy services.

Support is available for victims no matter when the sexual violence occurred.

Day One staff are trained to accompany victims to medical facilities, police stations, legal proceedings, and to provide support and advocacy throughout the entire process.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.