Minister Charged With Sex AssaultsNov 13, 2002 | The Narragansett Times The pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Wakefield who also served as a teaching assistant in the South Kingstown School District's Farm School for learning-disabled students was arrested Friday by North Kingstown police and charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault for alleged incidents involving a 17-year-old female student who has autism and cerebral palsy.
South Kingstown police have also charged the man, 53-year-old Bruce C. DiMaria, of 37 Whitford Street, Wakefield, with two additional counts of second-degree sexual assault stemming from two alleged incidents that occurred with the girl at his Wakefield address.
Second-degree sexual assault is a felony that can carry up to two years imprisonment and a $500 fine.
DiMaria is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene located at 233 High Street in Wakefield.
His Whitford street address is the parsonage of the church.
No one answered at the church Monday and an answering machine indicated the phone number was that of the DiMaria residence.
DiMaria did not return a phone message for comment.
The Church of the Nazarene is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. An American Protestant denomination founded in 1908, the church follows many of the doctrines of early Methodism. An unidentified spokesperson at church headquarters referred all media inquiries to the General Secretary who was unavailable for comment.
DiMaria was arraigned on the North Kingstown Police charges Saturday and released on $1,000 cash bail but has yet to be arraigned on the charges filed by South Kingstown police.
The Farm School serves South Kingstown students with disabilities and is located in North Kingstown. School Superintendent Robert Hicks placed DiMaria on paid administrative leave Thursday after learning of the accusations. Hicks also notified Farm School employees and parents of students.
"These kinds of charges are very upsetting," Hicks said Tuesday morning. "They throw our school programs into a great deal of turmoil and we are working to make the school day for students at the Farm School as normal and as smooth as possible."
North Kingstown Police Chief Steven Fage was notified by the alleged victim's family of the accusations Thursday night and instructed them to come to the police station Friday morning for a formal interview, said North Kingstown Police Captain Charles Brennan.
The family also notified the school department Thursday, and Brennan said North Kingstown contacted the school department Friday morning but learned DiMaria had already been placed on administrative leave.
"We were concerned that he not be working around children during the investigation and because of the charges," Brennan said. "But that had been addressed."
The alleged victim gave a statement to both North and South Kingstown police Friday morning in North Kingstown at the Child Advocacy Center. An assistant attorney general was also present at the interview.
South Kingstown Juvenile Detective Patrick Strickland was present as well, and learned that at least two alleged incidents occurred at the Wakefield address.
The alleged incidents date back to "the beginning of the year," said South Kingstown Sergeant Thomas Owens.
DiMaria was arrested at approximately 6:24 p.m. at his Wakefield residence Friday evening.
"They [North Kingstown] had gotten information that a couple of these alleged incidents occurred down here at the residence so we got on board," said Owens.
Owens said the South Kingstown charges have been presented to the attorney general and that DiMaria has a court appearance scheduled for November 27.
He has no known prior record, Owens said.
"At this point, we have presented the two counts in South Kingstown and are awaiting the AG's determination," Owens said.
Brennan said after the interview, it was decided there was "probable cause" to file formal charges against DiMaria in North Kingstown and the alleged victim's testimony was a crucial factor in that determination.
"She was interviewed by a professional in the presence of both North Kingstown and South Kingstown Police and the assistant attorney general," he said. "It is testimonial evidence. Her testimony is a lot of the case."
Hicks said they are working hard to secure a replacement teaching assistant "as quickly as possible" and would be monitoring the case as it moves through the legal system.
"We will be seeing where it goes from now and we will be assessing it as the process goes forward," he said.