PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Diocese of Providence has placed Father Barry Meehan, pastor of St. Timothy's Parish in Warwick, on administrative leave after "credible allegations" of sexual misconduct surfaced. Meehan has resigned as pastor of St. Timothy's in light of the allegations.
According to the diocese, the incident in question allegedly took place more than 25 years ago. When they received word of the alleged incident, the diocese immediately reported the information to Rhode Island State Police and launched an investigation of their own, which concluded the allegation was of a credible nature.
Meehan has denied any wrongdoing.
"This unfortunate news is very distressing; however, the Diocese of Providence takes very seriously and will act upon credible allegations of abuse," said The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin in a statement released to media. "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."
Parishioners at St. Timothy's were told at Masses on Saturday and Sunday. Bishop Tobin has extended the dioceses' hand to parishioners there who may be in need of spiritual support.
The Bishop has appointed Rev. Francis O'Hara as temporary administrator to care for the parish.
Meehan's faculties, or permission to serve as a priest, have been removed in accordance with his suspension.
Meehan was ordained to the priesthood in 1978 and had served at churches around Rhode Island until being appointed pastor of St. Timothy in 2002.
The diocese urges anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse or with credible knowledge of such abuse by any member of the Church to call Rhode Island State Police Major Crimes Unit at 401-444-1000 or the Diocesan Office of Education and Compliance at 401-941-0760.