Senate leaders move to expel member accused of sex extortion
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Leaders of the state Senate on Wednesday took the first step in trying to expel the Senate’s minority whip, who was indicted on charges of extorting a teenage legislative page for sex.
Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate to expel Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle, who was arrested last week and was charged with extorting a male page for sex on two occasions in 2011 and with video voyeurism that involved trading naked photos of his ex-girlfriend and a New Hampshire woman taken without their consent.
The General Assembly has not invoked its power to expel a member since the state constitution was adopted 175 years ago, in 1843, according to the resolution. The state constitution says a member may be expelled with the vote of two-thirds of the Senate, which has 38 seats and just five Republican members.
The resolution , co-sponsored by Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Republican Minority Leader Dennis Algiere and other Democratic leaders in the overwhelmingly Democratic chamber, includes a list of allegations of wrongdoing by Kettle, including criminal charges and campaign finance violations he settled in December.
Kettle’s lawyer has denied wrongdoing. Kettle, of Coventry, and his lawyer didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.
The resolution is scheduled to be taken up in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. A news release announcing the legislation said Kettle and his lawyer would be offered the chance to present a defense at that hearing. If the resolution passes in committee, it would then be sent to the full Senate for a vote at a later date.
The resolution cites as reasons for expelling Kettle, 27, a “pattern of bad behavior,” an allegation of criminal behavior toward a minor member of the Senate page program and “the repugnant nature of the allegations of his behavior.” It also cites the appearance of impropriety by a member of the Senate, Kettle’s “failure to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct” and the Senate’s responsibility to provide a safe work environment to pages.
The Senate’s pages range in age from 15 through college age and help lawmakers with errands at the Rhode Island Statehouse.
Kettle became the youngest senator in state history after he was elected in 2010 at age 20. The alleged victim would have been 16 or 17 years old at the time. The Associated Press does not identify people who may be victims of sex crimes unless they agree to have their names published.
This story has been corrected to show Kettle’s title is minority whip, not minority leader.