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The sexual abuse scandal in Providence diocese is a significant episode in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States and Ireland.

Handling by bishop Gelineau

Bishop Louis Edward Gelineau was criticized for his management of sexual abuse allegations in the Providence Diocese.[1] [2] He was named in several civil lawsuits[3].

Allegations of sexual impropriety

Gelineau himself was accused in 1997 of sexual impropriety with a boy at a Burlington orphanage in the early 1950s. [4] He once said, "It sickens my heart to be reminded...that the terrible sickness of pedophilia rears its ugly head all too often within clerical ranks," and acknowledged that pedophilia "is certainly not a possibility [the church leadership] were readily prepared to acknowledge in the years past."[5]

10-year long legal battle

In September 2002, bishop Robert Edward Mulvee ended a 10-year-long (the longest in the nation) legal battle over clerical sexual abuse cases, announcing a $13.5 million settlement in 36 different lawsuits accusing a total of 10 priests and one nun of sexual misconduct.[6] [7] [8] He said, "I hope that this action will be helpful to the victims of abuse and bring them in some way closer to closure and reconciliation with their God, their church, their families and themselves."[7][9]

Role of Kenneth Anthony Angell

Mgr. Kenneth Anthony Angell has been criticized for his management of abuse allegations during his tenure in the Diocese of Providence. [6] [7] [8] In 1989 he promised to "take care of it" when a Providence priest, Rev. Normand Demers, was accused of misconduct with boys while working at a Haitian orphanage; Demers was later brough back to work in the diocese.[10] He testified in a 1990 lawsuit that he did not take allegations against another priest, Rev. William O'Connell, seriously.[10] O'Connell was later convicted and served a short sentence before moving to New Jersey, where he committed more crimes and died in prison.[10]

Kevin R. Fisette affair

The diocese of Providence announced on August 24 2009 that the Rev. Kevin R. Fisette had resigned as pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Pawtucket because a “credible allegation” of sexual abuse of a minor surfaced after more than 20 years. Rhode Island police investigated the allegations that date to 1981-82 in April and found that “they were credible”, said Capt. David Neill, state police detective commander.[11]

Abuse prevention program

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has in place one of the strongest anti-sexual abuse programs in the United States. Nationally recognized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Diocese of Providence’s policy clearly states that known sex offenders are not permitted to serve in active ministry. [12]

See also


  1. Carroll, Matt (2002-03-21). "Providence bishop ignored son's abuse report, mother says". The Boston Globe.
  2. Ericson, Jody (January 1997). "Bye-bye, Bishop". Providence Phoenix.
  3. Dillon, Sam (2002-07-04). "First Amendment No Shield For Church in Abuse Cases". The New York Times.
  4. "U.S. Bishops Accused of Abuse".
  5. Matchan, Linda (1992-05-26). "Church is asked to pay for aid in sex case". The Boston Globe.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Levitz, Jennifer (2002-09-10). "$13.5M settlement ends abuse suits against diocese". Timothy J. Conlon, Esq..
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Providence Diocese Settles 36 Abuse Suits". The New York Times. 2002-09-10.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Carroll, Matt (2002-09-10). "$13.5m settlement in R.I. clergy abuse". The Boston Globe.
  9. TIME magazine article
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse". The Dallas Morning News. 2002-06-12.
  11. Pawtucket priest resigns after allegations of sexual abuse
  12. Child Protection Information
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