Republican senator charged with video voyeurism, extortion
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island state senator under investigation by state police since January was arrested Friday on charges of video voyeurism and extortion.
Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle faces one count of video voyeurism brought by state police for sending pictures of his ex-girlfriend’s “private parts,” Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin said. He also was indicted on two counts of extortion, but Philbin said he could not comment on those counts.
Kettle was being held in jail over the weekend and is to appear in court Monday, he said.
Kettle’s lawyer, Paul DiMaio, called the video voyeurism charge “nonsense” and said he has no idea what the extortion charges are about. He also blasted state police for their tactics, saying they deliberately took Kettle into custody at his workplace on a Friday afternoon, which meant he likely would be held over the weekend.
“All they had to do was call us, we would have been in there,” he said.
Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio issued a written statement calling for Kettle’s immediate resignation.
“It is deeply troubling that a member of the Senate has been indicted on charges of video voyeurism and extortion. Based on what we know at this time, I believe that Mr. Kettle should resign immediately. I will reserve further comment until the indictment is unsealed and we have additional information,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, who leads the GOP caucus, also said he believes Kettle should “resign immediately.”
Kettle, 27, serves as the Senate minority whip in the tiny Republican caucus. He represents parts of Coventry, Foster, Scituate and West Greenwich.
DiMaio said in January that the investigation involved an allegation of video voyeurism and images taken surreptitiously of his girlfriend, with whom Kettle had recently split. He said at the time that he believed the images in question were not illegal and or pornographic.
“There’s no allegation that he did something wrong up there,” DiMaio said then, referring to the Statehouse.
Earlier this week, WPRI-TV and The Providence Journal reported that the head of the Senate page program had been called to testify before a grand jury. The page program employs several dozen high school and college students to help lawmakers at the Statehouse.
Asked about details of the charges against Kettle, and whether they were related in any way to the Senate page program, Philbin would not comment.
DiMaio said he doesn’t know anything about the page program, and Kettle told him he didn’t either.
“He tells me he didn’t, so I believe him,” DiMaio said.