Former priest charged with child molestation

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has been arrested on child molestation charges, according to the office of R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha.

Father James Silva, 81, was indicted by a statewide grand jury on two counts of first-degree child molestation and nine counts of second-degree child molestation, the AG’s office said. The indictment was unsealed after he was arraigned in Providence Superior Court on Monday.

Silva is accused of sexually assaulting a male victim under the age of 14 between 1989 and 1990, while he was serving as interim director and assistant director of the Office of Ministerial Formation.

Silva’s bail was set at $50,000 with surety and he was ordered to have no contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 18.

The AG’s office said Silva was removed from the priesthood in 1993 and pleaded guilty to a second-degree sexual assault charge back in 1995. He received a seven-year suspended sentence.

This marks the third priest arrested in the past year as part of an ongoing review conducted by the AG’s office.

In November 2020, former Woonsocket priest John Petrocelli was charged with multiple counts of child molestation, and in May 2021, former Smithfield priest Edward Kelley was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.

“Our months-long, broad investigation of clergy child sexual abuse in Rhode Island has had, from its inception, two principal purposes: to prepare a comprehensive report of our findings regarding such abuse and the Diocese’ response to it, and along the way bringing individual criminal cases as they are developed, where the facts as alleged warrant them,” Neronha said.

Michael F. Kieloch, a spokesperson for the Diocese, released a statement to 12 News saying that Silva was on its List of Credibly Accused Clergy published in 2019.

“As we have for many years, the Diocese of Providence remains committed to fully cooperating with law enforcement and the attorney general,” Kieloch added.

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