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Former Rhode Island priest faces sexual assault charges

A grand jury in May indicted Edward Kelley, 79, alleging he committed the assaults in 1983 in North Smithfield.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A former Roman Catholic priest who was assigned to at least four Rhode Island parishes through the early 1990s faces three counts of first-degree sexual assault, according to court records.

The records show that a statewide grand jury in May indicted Edward Kelley, 79, alleging he committed the assaults in 1983 in North Smithfield, The Providence Journal reported Friday.

Kelley, who was living in Columbia, South Carolina, was arrested on May 14 and returned to Rhode Island. He is being held without bail pending a hearing to determine his mental competency scheduled for Aug. 12, according to court records.

A voicemail message seeking comment was left Friday with Kelley’s lawyer.

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Attorney Timothy Conlon said in a statement he represents a man who alleges Kelley sexually abused him as a boy. Conlon criticized the Diocese of Providence for not including Kelley’s name on its list of credibly accused priests.

Diocese spokesperson Michael Kieloch said the diocese is only now learning of the charges Kelley is facing and will fully cooperate with law enforcement.

Kelley served at churches in North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Cumberland.

Kristy dosReis, the spokesperson for state Attorney General Peter Neronha, said the office could not comment because Kelley has not been arraigned.

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