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Rhode Island v. Desrosiers



Type of Case:

Rhode Island

Location (State or Country): 


Civil or Criminal: 

Advisory organization

Form of Corroboration: 


Rhode Island v. Desrosiers was a 1994 criminal case in which Rev. Alfred R. Desrosiers was indicted on charges of rape in response to Cynthia Lewis’ memories of child sexual abuse which allegedly occured in 1972 while he was assigned to St. Joan of Arc Chuch. (Lewis also sought a civil suit against him). Her memories were revived in 1993 when her mother, dying of cancer, expressed the wish to see Father Desrosiers, a long-time family friend. After a hearing to assess the reliability of the recovered-memory evidence, Judge Needham allowed the case to proceed. One reason “was corroborative evidence” in the form of “conversations Father Desrosiers had with Louis E. Gelineau, then Bishop of Providence, and the Rev. Normand Godin after Lewis reported her recalled memories to the diocese” (Mooney). At the time of Lewis' suit, Desrosiers was also the target of a concurrent lawsuit by a different victim of the same church (Rockoff).


1. Mooney, T. (1998, April 13). Why a court accepted 'recovered memory': While its legal validity is debated in one sexual-abuse case, a judge rules that it is reliable and admissible in a trial involving a Catholic priest. Providence Journal-Bulletin.

2. Rockoff, J. D. (1995, September 14). Priest indicted in rape: The charge against the Rev. Alfred R. Desrosiers, 60, stems from an incident in 1972, when the alleged victim was 15. Providence Journal-Bulletin.

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