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Former RI high school coach suspended after AG confirms investigation

Target 12

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – The longtime former boys’ basketball coach at North Kingstown High School has been placed on leave at his new job as the attorney general investigates allegations of inappropriate interactions with former underage student athletes.

The Monsignor Clarke School in South Kingstown announced in an email to parents Friday that Aaron Thomas has been placed on administrative leave.

“The school received a complaint that one of our recently hired middle school teachers allegedly acted inappropriately while previously employed at a different, public school,” according to the email, which emphasized that there were no allegations of misconduct at Monsignor Clarke.

Target 12 has independently verified that the investigation into Thomas is focused on skinfold caliper tests of body fat that he performed on some student athletes in North Kingstown over multiple decades. The students referred to them as “fat tests.”

Police records obtained by Target 12 show the teenagers involved told detectives they were naked and alone with the coach behind closed doors, without consent forms, parent notifications or other witnesses present.

Target 12 has learned the North Kingstown Police Department was notified about Thomas’ behavior as early as 2018, but didn’t end up investigating it closely until earlier this year. After several months, they determined that no criminal charges could be brought against the former coach.

But in response to questions from Target 12 this week, a spokesperson for Attorney General Peter Neronha, Kristy dosReis, said the investigation into Thomas “remains under review.”

Officials at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, which oversees Monsignor Clarke School, indicated the attorney general’s office reached out to them with the same message.

“The Diocese of Providence was informed today by the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General that an investigation has been opened into allegations of misconduct concerning a teacher at Monsignor Clarke School in Wakefield while he was a teacher and coach at a different, non-Catholic school,” said diocesan spokesperson Michael Kieloch.

The decision by Monsignor Clarke to put Thomas on administrative leave came after Target 12 asked questions during the final stages of a months-long investigation into whether he acted inappropriately.

Thomas — who has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Target 12 — started at Monsignor Clarke this fall after resigning from North Kingstown High in June.

Asked about Thomas, North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger told Target 12, “The North Kingstown School Committee and School Department cannot legally comment on personnel issues regarding current or former employees.”

The North Kingstown Police Department would not discuss specifics about the investigation, saying only “the department recognizes the role the media plays in our society and we will always cooperate with the needs it serves while operating within the confines of the law.”

If you have more information about this story, contact Target12@wpri.com.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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