Grand Jury Doesn't Indict in Sexual Assault Cases

As reported by Lynn Arditi in the July 16, 2014 edition of the Providence Journal, two (2) sexual assault cases were presented to a grand jury and in both cases the grand jury decline to indict the defendants. The cases involved students from Providence College. Two (2) men, members of the basketball team, were accused of assaulting another student on campus last year. Providence College investigated the incident and its Disciplinary Board found the men committed sexual misconduct. The incident was also reported to the Providence Police Department and the case was then turned over to the Attorney General's Office who submitted the cases to the grand jury.

Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 12-12-1.1 an offense which may be punished by death shall be prosecuted by indictment. An offense which may be punished by a term of life imprisonment shall be prosecuted by indictment unless the defendant, with the consent of the attorney general and leave of the court, waives indictment, in which event it may be prosecuted by information.

Rhode Island no longer has the death penalty. Therefore, only offenses which are punishable by up to life imprisonment require an indictment to be prosecuted. There are only a few capital offenses in Rhode Island such as, first degree sexual assault, first degree child molestation, robbery, burglary, first degree arson, homicide and treason. The cases were presented to the grand jury for indictment, which means the Attorney General's office was seeking to charge the men with first degree sexual assault.

First degree sexual assault is defined as a person is guilty of first degree sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person, and if any of the following circumstances exist:

(1) The accused, not being the spouse, knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled, or physically helpless.

(2) The accused uses force or coercion.

(3) The accused, through concealment or by the element of surprise, is able to overcome the victim.

(4) The accused engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or stimulation.

The penalties if convicted include imprisonment for a period not less than ten (10) years and may be imprisoned for life, sex offender registration, sex offender counseling and no-contact order with the victim.

If you or a family member has been charged with first degree sexual assault, third degree sexual assault or other sex crimes, please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at

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