Lawyer: Investigation of state senator may involve allegations of video voyeurism

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The lawyer for state Sen. Nicholas Kettle says he believes the state police investigation swirling around his client centers on allegations of video voyeurism, but he maintains Kettle did not break the law.

“I think they may be talking about video voyeurism, but that’s not what he did,” attorney Paul DiMaio said Wednesday morning. “It takes more than a recording to allow that. There is no allegation he planted it in a stranger’s place.”

“No hidden cameras and things like that,” he added.

DiMaio said Kettle and another person were in a relationship at the time of the allegations and said the woman Kettle was dating called him on Monday. Based on the questions she was asking, DiMaio believes she was being directed by police during the conversation.

“You had a young man and a young girl emotional, they both had a serious relationship,” DiMaio said. “My client apologized in the phone call but didn’t incriminate himself.”

DiMaio said he thinks the complaint was filed after Kettle left his iPad at his girlfriends house and she went through the device’s photos.

DiMaio said Kettle has also had a change of heart about resigning from the state Senate, and has decided to continue as a member of the General Assembly. Asked why, DiMaio said he wasn’t sure but indicated Kettle received support from his colleagues on Smith Hill. He said he did not know whether Kettle would seek re-election in November.

On Monday, state police investigators served a search warrant at Kettle’s Coventry home and seized a cellphone, according to DiMaio. He said they later handed over a computer to detectives. DiMaio added that his firm has hired a computer expert to assist in Kettle’s defense.

State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin has confirmed the agency has an active investigation into Kettle but would not provide more details.

Kettle, 27, was first elected to the Senate in 2010 when he was just 20 years old and has been re-elected three times since. He is one of just five Republicans in the 38-member Senate.

DiMaio said he was surprised at what he considered a large response by the state police and feels that if Kettle weren’t an elected official, it wouldn’t have been handled this way.

“How much money and time they are spending on this event?” he said.

State police spokesperson Laura Meade Kirk said she couldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation.

As of Wednesday morning, Kettle’s Twitter account had been deactivated and his Facebook page was cleaned of any content or restricted for viewing.

According to the state’s video voyeurism law, it is a crime if a person “for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or stimulation … uses, installs or permits the use or installation of an imaging device to capture, record, store or transmit visual images of the intimate areas of another person without that other person’s knowledge and consent, and under circumstances in which that other person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

If a person is convicted, the crime comes with a potential sentence of up to three years in prison.

Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin declined to say if their office was involved in the case.

“It is our policy to neither confirm nor deny if the Office is assisting in a police investigation,” Kempe said in an email.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook