Letter: Shame on the many enablers in Bristol

Posted 8/8/19

After reading the two lengthy articles in the Phoenix and Boston Globe regarding numerous allegations against a well known local “civic leader,” I was angered, but not at all surprised. …

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Letter: Shame on the many enablers in Bristol

Posted

After reading the two lengthy articles in the Phoenix and Boston Globe regarding numerous allegations against a well known local “civic leader,” I was angered, but not at all surprised. Anyone in this town that has not been living under a rock for the last 45 years has heard the many rumors regarding this “civic leader” accused of molesting young boys.

And while most of my anger is directed toward this “civic leader,” I also direct a large amount of my anger toward those I consider his enablers. That long list of enablers goes back many years to those I feel were most responsible for allowing and ignoring his behavior, which would be his colleagues and supervisors from the 1970s and early 1980s at the Bristol police and fire departments and the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

They knew full well of his penchant for young boys, but instead of doing anything about his abhorrent behavior, they coddled and protected him. As public safety professionals, they had a duty and obligation to stop and/or report his actions, but instead completely ignored them, which only encouraged him to commit more vile acts, thinking he was immune from prosecution.

Fast forward through the years, and many well respected civic, fraternal and charitable organizations in town gave this individual employment, praise, promotions and accolades, culminating with the Fourth of July Committee giving him Bristol's highest honor as chief marshal of the Fourth of July celebration. These groups unfortunately did the same thing as the police and fire departments did 45 years ago — they were enablers who held him up on a pedestal as if he were the second coming of the Messiah, all the while ignoring his past behavior and the baggage he carried with him.

The statement heard many times was, “he did a lot for the town,” but doing a lot for the town surely does not excuse his alleged criminal behavior.

While the dark past of this “civic leader” has now been brought to light, unfortunately the statute of limitations does not allow him to be criminally prosecuted for any of his past alleged crimes, and he maintains the presumption of innocence. But perhaps Bristol town leaders, organizations and the rest of his enablers have learned a valuable but painful lesson — no matter how many good things someone does for the town, it does not give that person the right to allegedly commit horrible and disgusting crimes against young boys, and it surely does not give that person the right to receive the town’s highest honor.

Mike Proto
Bristol

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.