Former priest indicted for alleged sexual assault in Burrillville; Fourth case against northern RI clergy

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PROVIDENCE – A former Catholic priest has been indicted for the alleged sexual assault of a juvenile that reportedly took place in Burrillville in the early 1980s.

The Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment Kevin Fisette, 66 of Dayville, Conn. with one count of first-degree sexual assault. According to a release from Attorney General Peter Neronha and Col. Darnell Weaver, the inditement relates to the sexual assault of a juvenile male between 1981 and 1982.

The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, June 8, in Providence County Superior Court.

According to the indictment, reported out on Saturday, May 25, at the time of the alleged assault Fisette was serving as a Deacon in Our Lady of Victory Parish, in Hopkinton, and as a Chaplain at Rhode Island Hospital. The defendant was ordained as a priest on November 21, 1981, and the assault allegedly took place the town of Burrillville between January 1, 1981, and December 31, 1982.

Fisette was removed from ministry by the Diocese of Providence in August of 2009, but has not been dismissed from the clerical state by the Catholic Church.

Neronha said the arrest was part of a broad investigation of clergy child sexual abuse in Rhode Island. It is is the fourth case his office has brought against a clergy member based on child sexual abuse allegations, all of which have links to churches in northern Rhode Island.

In November 2021, a statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging former priest James Silva with multiple counts of child molestation. Silva, who was ordained in 1967, faced his first accusations of sexual misconduct during his time at Saint Matthew Church in Cranston, where he served in the mid-1970s. He was then transferred to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Pascoag by Bishop Louis Gelineau, where he served from 1976 until 1980, when he was accused of sexual abuse against young boys. At the time, Zambarano Hospital was a mission of St. Joseph’s.

The case against Silva is being prosecuted in Providence County Superior Court.

On May 5, 2021, a Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging former Priest Edward Kelley with multiple counts of sexual assault. Kelley served at St. John’s Church in Slatersville in 1983, when he is accused of sexually abusing a boy who lived with him at the rectory. Kelley was reassigned to assistant pastor of Our Lady of Consolation in Pawtucket in 1985 by Bishop Louis Gelineau and again reassigned to St. Agatha Parish in Woonsocket 1986, where he remained until the early 1990s, when he was assigned to St. Aidan in Cumberland.

In February of 2022, Kelley was found to be incompetent to stand trial.

In November of 2020, a Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging former Woonsocket priest John Petrocelli with multiple counts of child molestation. The case against Petrocelli is being prosecuted in Providence County Superior Court.

In connection with the review of allegations of clergy child sexual abuse and the Diocese of Providence’s handling of such allegations, the Attorney General’s Office has gained access to over 70 years of Diocese records.

“Our investigation remains active and ongoing,” Neronha said. “I am grateful to the Rhode Island State Police for their partnership throughout the investigation.”

An indictment, information, or complaint is merely an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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