Search warrants executed at Providence school dept, elementary school in molestation investigation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence police detectives executed search warrants at the Providence Public School Department and Harry Kizirian Elementary School Thursday following the arrest of a gym teacher on child molestation charges.

A spokesperson for the city confirmed the search warrants, but declined to say what information was requested by the police.

James Duffy, a 53-year-old teacher at Harry Kizirian Elementary School, was arraigned in District Court Thursday morning on five counts of child molestation on three 11-year-old victims. A pre-arraignment conference is set for Sept. 21.

Duffy was placed on administrative leave from his $79,925-a-year job on May 9, a complaint filed two days later with police by a parent of one of the victims stated she had not been contacted by the school. Providence police did not interview any of the alleged victims until last week.

Laura Hart, a spokesperson for the school district, has acknowledged school leaders did not immediately contact DCYF, even though Rhode Island law requires anyone who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been the victim of sexual abuse must report it to the agency within 24 hours.

Acting City Council President Sabina Matos has called for an independent investigation into the school’s handling of the case.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan