PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence faced a judge Wednesday after he was charged with first-degree sexual assault.
Father Kevin Fisette, 66, is accused of engaging in a sexual act with a “physically helpless” 13-year-old boy between 1981 and 1982, according to the prosecution.
Prosecutors claim Fisette made admissions of guilt during a recent interview and in emails they’ve obtained.
“There is an email exchange that was generated between this defendant and the victim in this case, which the state submits as further evidence, and is where the defendant makes admissions as to his guilt,” prosecutor Jim Baum said in court.
The prosecution also said they have new testimony from Bishop Thomas Tobin and other clergy that are “damning admissions” of Fisette’s guilt.
Fisette was serving as a deacon at Our Lady of Victory in Hopkinton and a chaplain at Rhode Island Hospital when the alleged assault took place.
The allegation against him was first made in 2009, but he was never charged because the statute of limitations had expired. He was, however, removed from ministry in 2009, while he was working at St. Leo the Great Church in Pawtucket.
Fisette pleaded not guilty to the charge Wednesday in Providence Superior Court. He was released on $50,000 personal recognizance and ordered to surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim, despite arguments from the defense for looser bail conditions.
“This allegation goes back 40 years,” said his attorney, Richard Ratcliffe. “There is no allegation that Mr. Fisette at any time after this event did anything that for the past 40 years hasn’t kept the peace and been in good behavior.”
The accusation comes amid a state review of child sexual abuse allegations against clergy members of the Diocese. Since Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office began the investigation, four former priests have been charged.
According to the Diocese of Providence, there are 15 living credibly accused members of the clergy.
Fisette is due back in court August 9.