Priest charged with sexual assault in Cranston, Providence

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

    An indictment unsealed Friday charges a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence with sexual assault in parishes in Cranston and Providence.

    The Rev. Barry Meehan pleaded not guilty in Superior Court to five counts of first-degree sexual assault.

    According to the indictment, Meehan is accused of sexually assaulting a boy over 14 years old between April 1986 and January 1991 while assigned to St. Mary Parish in Cranston.

    Meehan, 65, is accused of sexually assaulting another boy between January 1991 and August 1992 while assigned to St. Augustine Parish in Providence.

    "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.

    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.

    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.

    Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a statement Friday that he has asked the Vatican to permanently remove Meehan from the priesthood.

    Meehan was released on bail. He was ordered to surrender his passport and to stay away from the alleged victims.

    A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Dec. 11.

    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.

    The Rhode Island State Police said the investigation is ongoing and that if anyone knows of additional victims they should contact Lt. Matthew Moynihan at 401-444-1046 or Cpl. Kenneth Moriarty at 401-444-1280.

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