Former Priest Charged As Rhode Island Attorney General Examines Abuse Allegations | Where is



A third former priest has been indicted in Rhode Island as part of the state attorney general’s ongoing review of allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

Attorney General Peter Neronha said on Tuesday that a grand jury issued an indictment of 11 charges accusing a former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, James Silva, 81, of sexually assaulting a man under the age of 14 between 1989 and 1990, following an investigation by his office and the Rhode Island State Police.

Silva faces two counts of first degree pedophilia and nine counts of second degree pedophilia. He was Acting Director and Deputy Director in the Office of Ministerial Formation of the Diocese of Providence from 1986 to 1991.

The diocese said in a statement Tuesday that Silva was removed from his post almost 30 years ago and included on its list of clergy accused credibly. He says he remains determined to cooperate fully with law enforcement.

Silva does not yet have a lawyer who could comment on his behalf. Court records indicate he is considering hiring James McCormick, but McCormick said Tuesday he had not heard from Silva.

Former Priest Woonsocket John Petrocelli has been indicted in November 2020 on multiple counts of pedophilia and former Smithfield priest Edward Kelley has been indicted in May for several counts of sexual assault. Both cases are pending before the Superior Court.

Rhode Island is one of the most Catholic American states. Neronha launched a review of the sexual abuse allegations shortly after taking office in 2019 to determine what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible.

In July 2019, the liberated diocese a 1950 list of 50 clerics, religious priests and deacons whom he believes have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. Silva was on the list. Shortly after, the diocese voluntarily accepted a new memorandum of understanding to give the attorney general and state police access to all complaints since 1950, whether they are deemed credible by the diocese or not.

Neronha said on Tuesday her investigation “remains active and ongoing.”

Silva was dismissed from his post in 1993 and pleaded guilty two years later to sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man. He was given a seven-year suspended prison sentence and has been charged in several prosecutions. Silva’s lawyer then said the priest agreed to negotiate the plea to avoid jail.

Silva had been held in adult correctional facilities since Tuesday. The bond was set at $ 50,000 with bail and the court ordered Silva not to have contact with the alleged victim or any children. A hearing is scheduled for November 22 to determine his lawyer.

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