RI priest resigns amid abuse allegation
WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island Roman Catholic priest has resigned from his parish and has been placed on administrative leave because of a ‘‘credible’’ allegation of sexual misconduct from more than 25 years ago, the Diocese of Providence said Sunday.
The diocese said the Rev. Barry Meehan has resigned as pastor of St. Timothy’s Church in Warwick, and church officials have reported the allegation to state police. Details of the allegations weren’t released.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Evans broke the news to St. Timothy parishioners during Masses Saturday and Sunday. Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin also met with parish leaders and pledged spiritual and pastoral support to the parish.
‘‘This unfortunate news is very distressing,’’ Tobin said in a statement Sunday. ‘‘The Diocese of Providence takes very seriously and will act upon credible allegations of abuse. This is a very difficult time for the victim of the alleged abuse and his family, for ... Meehan and his family and friends and for the people of St. Timothy’s Parish.’’
The diocese investigated the allegation and concluded it was of a ‘‘credible nature.’’
Church officials said Meehan has denied any improper activity.
Attempts to reach Meehan for comment on Sunday were unsuccessful.
The diocese said Meehan was ordained to the priesthood in 1978. He served at parishes in West Warwick, Cranston and Providence before being appointed pastor of St. Timothy’s in 2002.
Diocesan officials also said they revoked Meehan’s permission to serve as a priest.
Tobin appointed the Rev. Francis O'Hara as temporary administrator for the parish.