Rhode Island GOP state representative faces pushback over pedophile comment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Republican state Rep. Robert Quattrocchi is facing criticism after he asked a Democratic colleague if she was a “pedophile” during a committee hearing Friday.

Quattrocchi directed the question toward Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Providence) during testimony for an equity impact bill being discussed during the House Committee on State Government and Elections last week.

The proposed bill would require that all legislation submitted introduced at the state house include an equity impact statement on how each bill would affect different residents from all backgrounds.

During the interaction, Quattrocchi was speaking out against the measure when the following exchange took place.

Quattrocchi: In my thinking about bills, bills I want to present, do I have to take into account, for instance, religion? Do I have to take into account how it affects Satanists in Rhode Island, or do I have to into account with sexual orientation how it effects pedophiles in Rhode Island, anything like that?

Kislak: Well first, I want to point out that pedophile is not a sexual orientation. So, my equity right now is pointing out that that was very offensive.

Quattrocchi: Oh, I didn’t mean to, are you a pedophile? I’m sorry.

At that point committee chairman Evan Shanley (D-Warwick) jumped in and told committee members to focus back on the bill and Quattrocchi can be heard saying, “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

Following the hearing several, organizations condemned Quattrocchi’s pedophile remark, including the Rhode Island Democratic Party, who said in part, “The Rhode Island Democratic Party strongly condemns the dangerous and hateful homophobic rhetoric Representative Robert Quattrocchi directed at Democratic State Representative Rebecca Kislak and our state’s LGBTQ+ residents.”

“The hateful behavior displayed by State Representative Robert Quattrocchi in a public hearing is beneath the dignity of an elected official. Rhode Island has a proud tradition of tolerance, and the RI Democratic Party is proud to stand up for the rights and safety of our LGBTQ+ community,” added the organization.

The comment also drew the ire of House Speaker Joe Shekarchi.

“Rep. Quattrocchi’s comments were reprehensible and insulting to a colleague. This was not in keeping with the decorum of the House of Representatives as an inclusive institution,” Shekarchi said in a statement.

Quattrocchi issued a statement Tuesday afternoon about the interaction, calling it a misunderstanding.

“I have apologized to Representative Kislak on four different occasions for the misunderstanding that occurred on Friday. Because I have not been advised by the Speaker’s Office as to his intentions regarding this matter, I cannot offer further comment at this time,” said Quattrocchi.

The next meeting of the House Committee on State Government and Elections has not yet been scheduled.

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