Embattled Sen. Nicholas Kettle says he'll resign

Sen. Nicholas Kettle (Rhode Island General Assembly photo)

Embattled Rhode Island state Sen. Nicholas Kettle, R-Coventry, said Thursday that he will resign his seat.

Kettle, 27, is facing two charges of extortion and one count of video voyeurism. He pleaded not guilty Monday to the extortion charges.

"After taking several days to speak with my legal counsel and family members, I have determined that it is in my best interest to resign and concentrate on the unfounded allegations against me," Kettle said in a letter that will be delivered to the General Assembly Thursday afternoon.

Senate leadership had started the process to have Kettle, the minority whip, expelled.

Kettle, who in his fourth term, called out Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere in his letter.

"I am extremely disappointed in Senate Leadership on both sides of the aisle because Mr. Algiere and Mr. Ruggerio do not appear to understand the importance of due process as the cornerstone of our legal system," Kettle wrote.

But Ruggerio said he thinks Kettle made a wise choice by stepping down.

“I believe that the decision Mr. Kettle made today is in the best interests of the Senate and the state," Ruggerio noted in a statement. "I certainly respect his right to due process, and the proceedings contemplated in the Senate were not being taken lightly. At the same time, the Senate has an obligation to ensure a safe working environment for all who are employed here. The extremely serious allegations against Mr. Kettle, including sexual exploitation of a minor in the Senate page program, are unlike any I have witnessed during my time in the Senate. I am grateful that Mr. Kettle has chosen a path that avoids requiring his colleagues to consider expulsion.”

Kettle was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly extorting sex from a 16-or 17-year-old male Senate page in 2011. Kettle's attorney called the claims suspicious because the alleged victim ran a political race against Kettle in 2014 and the allegations never came up.

Separately, Kettle was charged by Rhode Island State Police for texting nude photos of his then-girlfriend to a friend of his in New Hampshire.

One of Kettle's lawyers, Priscilla DiMaio helped her client clear out his office and Senate desk after delivering his resignation letter.

“He wants to concentrate on exonerating his name and this was just something that was getting in the way," DiMaio said.

Kettle’s district will remain unrepresented in the Senate the remainder of this session because it is too late to hold a special election

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