Providence teacher faces additional charges in child molestation case

James Duffy, who taught at Harry Kizirian Elementary School, was arraigned in District Court on five counts of child molestation. (On left, James Duffy seen at his arraignment with his lawyer. On right, a police photo of James Duffy following his arrest)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Providence elementary school teacher accused of inappropriately touching several children has been charged with an additional count of second-degree child molestation as well as simple assault.

James Duffy, physical education teacher at Harry Kizirian Elementary School, is now charged with six counts of second-degree child molestation on four 11-year-old girls and simple assault on one of the victims, according to Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island attorney general’s office.

The new charges against Duffy, 53, were added on Sept. 29, according to an information filed in Rhode Island Superior Court. A pre-arraignment conference is scheduled for Oct. 31. Duffy is on paid administrative leave from the school district.

In a statement, Duffy’s attorney, John Calcagni, said his client “strenuously maintains his innocence.”

“My client has been a Providence school teacher in good standing for almost 30 years,” Calcagni said. “He would not have made it this far in life, or in his career as a teacher, if he had a tendency, disposition or character for abusing children. His reputation and record in the Providence School Department is beyond reproach. We very much look forward to his day in court so that his innocence may be proven and his reputation restored.”

The investigation into Duffy led to the Kizirian School Principal Violet LeMar being charged with a misdemeanor for failing to report the children’s allegations to the R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). State law requires anyone who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been the victim of sexual abuse to report it to DCYF within 24 hours. She has pleaded not guilty and was placed on leave by the district.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare confirmed Sunday the police department’s investigation into Duffy and the school department’s response to the allegations is complete.

CORRECTION: This report has been updated to reflect that Duffy is charged with six counts of second-degree child molestation on four children. The attorney general’s office initially reported that only three children were victims.

Continue the discussion on Facebook

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