November 17, 2005

Suit prompts diocese to suspend priest

Providence Journal

09:49 AM EST on Thursday, November 17, 2005

Journal Staff Writer

Read the complaint filed against Rev. Aaron J. Cote (pdf)

PROVIDENCE -- The Providence diocese suspended a priest at St. Pius V Church yesterday after an 18-year-old Maryland man filed a civil lawsuit claiming the priest had sexually molested him.

The Rev. Aaron J. Cote, a member of the religious order of Dominicans, has served as youth minister and associate pastor at the Elmhurst Avenue church since 2003.

Earlier that year, Father Cote had worked in churches in Washington, D.C., and in Germantown, Md., until Dominican officials transferred him to Rhode Island.

At the time of his transfer, diocesan and Dominican officials said yesterday, they were aware of sexual allegations lodged against Father Cote.

But they said they believed officials from the Montgomery County Police Department and Maryland child-protective services officials had closed their investigations without bringing any criminal charges.

"We felt he had been cleared," said the Rev. Paul D. Theroux, a diocesan spokesman, "that there was no basis to the charges."

Indeed, "that investigation was closed without making an arrest," Officer Derek Baliles, spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department, said yesterday afternoon, hours after members of a national group of survivors of priest sexual abuse announced the filing of the civil suit against Father Cote.

Posted by kshaw at November 17, 2005 11:29 AM