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Resource ID: #26074
Source:WJAR-TV (Providence, R.I.)
In 2012 and early 2013, three Catholic priests were removed from duty at parishes in Rhode Island after credible allegations of sexual abuse against them surfaced. Several adult victims came forward to report assaults that happened decades earlier. In each case, the Diocese of Providence sent a letter describing the abuse and the circumstances to Rhode Island State Police. But because of Rhode Island's brief Statute of Limitations, as short as three years in some cases, there was no way to prosecute the priests criminally. Victims were also unable to bring civil lawsuits in most cases. NBC 10 wanted to know how many other Rhode Island priests had been credibly accused of sexual abuse but never charged with child molestation or rape. While the Diocese of Providence is not subject to public records laws, Rhode Island State Police maintained copies of the letters and must comply with the state's open records regulations. Over a six month period, public records requests revealed 45 letters sent to State Police by the Diocese during the past decade. The letters gave new insight into what victims experienced and how they were treated once they came forward. They also raised questions about why some cases were apparently reported to State Police, while others were not.