In accordance with The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and diocesan policy, The Diocese of Providence has announced that Father Barry Meehan has resigned as pastor of St. Timothy’s Parish in Warwick and placed on administrative leave. They said it was as a result of a credible charge of sexual misconduct that took place more than 25 years ago. Father Meehan has denied any improper activity. Upon receiving the allegation, the diocese immediately reported the information to the Rhode Island State Police and simultaneously launched an investigation of their own that concluded the allegation was credible. Nothing in the press release indicates the age of the apparent male victim at the time.
“This unfortunate news is very distressing, however, The Diocese of Providence takes [it] very seriously and will act upon credible allegations of abuse,” The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin,
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, said in a statement. “This is a very difficult time for the victim of the alleged abuse and his family, for Fr. Meehan and his family and friends and for the people of St. Timothy’s Parish. I would like to offer my prayers and support to all who are affected by this news.”
Attempts by the Beacon to contact the Rhode Island State Police about the status of their investigation have so far been unsuccessful.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Evans shared this information with parishioners of St. Timothy’s at Masses Saturday and Sunday. Bishop Tobin has met with parish leaders and will make a visit to the parish in the near future to provide more parishioners spiritual and pastoral support. The Bishop has appointed Rev. Francis O’Hara as a temporary administrator to the parish.
Father Meehan’s permission to serve as a priest has been revoked in accordance with the charter. The full content of the charter may be accessed through a link found on every page of The Diocese of Providence’s website at www.dioceseofprovidence.org.
Father Meehan was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1978 and served the following assignments: Saints Peter & Paul, West Warwick 1978 to 1980; St. Mary, Cranston 1980 to 1991; St.
Augustine, Providence 1991 to 1996; St. John the Baptist and St. James, West Warwick 1996 to 2000. He was appointed pastor of St. Timothy in 2002.
The Diocese urges anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse, or with knowledge of such abuse by any member of the Church, to report the information to the Rhode Island State Police Major Crimes Unit at 444-1000 or the Diocesan Office of
Education and Compliance at 941-0760.