State senator in Rhode Island charged with extorting page for sex

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses a Republican state senator of extorting sex from a page in the Senate's page program. The indictment was unsealed as Senate Minority Whip Nicholas Kettle was arraigned on two counts of extortion in Providence Superior Court. Kettle, of Coventry, is accused of extorting a male page for sex multiple times. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $50,000 personal recognizance. The news prompted Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio to again call for Kettle to resign immediately. He said he was "horrified and disgusted by these allegations." "We in the Senate are deeply shaken," he said. If Kettle refuses to step down, the Senate will pursue his expulsion, Ruggerio said. He said he also asked the Senate's chief legal counsel to conduct an immediate review of the page program. "We have spoken to most of the pages to ensure that they are aware of their rights in the workplace as well as procedures for reporting anything inappropriate," Ruggerio said. Kettle, who's 27 years old, was indicted last week, but the details of the extortion counts remained sealed over the weekend. State police separately charged Kettle with video voyeurism, accusing him of sending pictures of his ex-girlfriend's "private parts." The indictment says Kettle extorted the page into sex on two occasions in 2011. The indictment names the page, but The Associated Press does not identify people who may be victims of sex crimes unless they come forward and agree to have their names published. The page's LinkedIn profile says he served as a page from February 2011 to May 2012. Kettle, who's among five Republicans in the 38-member Senate, did not speak to reporters outside court and did not comment on whether he would resign, but his lawyer described the page as a political rival of Kettle's. State elections records show the page ran against Kettle as an independent in 2014, three years after the extortion is alleged to have Continue Reading

UMass botches missed free throw, No. 22 Rhode Island escapes

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Rhode Island has mostly cruised to a string of big victories over the past six weeks. For the second time in two games, though, the Rams had to sweat out late drama to keep their winning streak going.Jeff Dowtin had 19 points and 10 assists, and No. 22 Rhode Island escaped with an 85-83 win over Massachusetts on Tuesday night after the Minutemen botched an intentional missed free throw in the final seconds.The Rams (18-3, 10-0 Atlantic 10) led by three with 1.8 seconds left when UMass' Luwane Pipkins went to the free-throw line. Pipkins made the first shot and missed the second on purpose, but he was called for a lane violation while grabbing the rebound after throwing the ball off the front of the rim."I didn't think there was any way they were going to miss that," Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said. "You're not even allowed to do that on the school yard."Rhode Island has won 13 straight games, though this is their second straight tight one after rallying from 15 down to stave off Duquesne over the weekend."Our lack of defensive focus early kind of got them going," Hurley said. "We had a chance to win that one comfortably, up 14 late in the game. That's on me."Jared Terrell led the Rams with 21 points and fueled a 21-2 run in the first half, capped by E.C. Matthews' 3-pointer with under eight minutes left. Rhode Island led 44-41 at halftime."To be able to get down and get back up, I think it shows what our character's like," Terrell said.Pipkins paced the Minutemen (10-13, 3-7) with 27 points. He came in as the A-10's third-leading scorer at 19.9 points per game.UMass coach Matt McCall lamented a missed chance to steal a win against a ranked opponent with a limited roster."Our margin for error is so small," he said. "You have to be able to make those plays, especially against a team like Rhode Island."Dowtin added a few key free throws late in the second half, and Andre Berry had 15 points for Rhode Island.Rhode Island shot 81.3 percent Continue Reading

Lawson leads Rhode Island to 1st CAA win, beats Albany 31-14

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — JaJuan Lawson threw for 123 yards and two touchdowns to help Rhode Island get its first Colonial Athletic Association win of the year, beating Albany 31-14 on Saturday afternoon.Harold Cooper ran for 77 yards and two scores as Rhode Island rushed for a season-high 209 yards. Previous high was 148 yards in Rhode Island's only other win this season, a 17-10 victory over Harvard.The Rams (2-6, 1-4) had 332 total yards while limiting Albany (3-5, 1-4) to just 125 total yards.The Rams held a 21-0 advantage at the break. The Great Danes, who dropped their fourth straight, closed to 24-14 after Karl Mofor scored from the 1 and Eli Mencer scooped up a fumble and ran it back 69 yards for a touchdown early in the final quarter.Cooper scored from the 5 with 5:27 left to seal the win.___More AP college football: and 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Continue Reading

Four male Johnson & Wales University students drugged, groped, raped two freshman girls in Rhodes Island: police

Four male Saudi Arabian college students sexually assaulted two freshman girls after a night out at a Providence, R.I., nightclub, police said. Johnson & Wales University students Tareq Alharbi, 22, Mohammed Aljohani, 20, and Mohammed A. Alsaqer, 20, raped one of the women at a Pawtucket apartment, according to police reports cited Wednesday by the Providence Journal. Another JWU student, Yazeed Alasiri, 23, groped the other girl in the Central Ave. apartment he shares with Alsaqer the night of Oct. 1, police said. Investigators believe the men invited the two fellow JWU students to the apartment to smoke marijuana after dancing with them at an area club. Police said the guys handed the women open containers of beer to drink on the drive to the apartment. The women started feeling sick after they smoked hookah there, they told police. Alsaqer followed one of the women into the bathroom, put his hands over her mouth and raped her, police told the Journal. She then fell asleep on a bed and later woke up to a different man raping her. Police said at least three men raped her that night. The other woman dozed off and later woke up to Alasiri pawing all over her, cops said. One of the victims reported the sexual assault to police the next day at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, according to the Pawtucket Police Department. Officers arrested the men days later. Alharbi, Aljohani and Alsaqer are incarcerated without bail on charges of sexual assault in the first degree, according to Providence County inmate records. Alasiri is charged with sexual assault in the second degree. All four have been suspended while JWU officials conduct their own investigation, the private university said in a statement to WJAR-TV. “The university takes a proactive stance to educate its students about sexual assault prevention and has resources in place to offer comfort, support, protection, and assistance to victims,” the statement Continue Reading

Despite early hardships, Dan Hurley up to the challenge of making Rhode Island a winner

Dan Hurley looked drained after his Rhode Island team had just come out on the short end of a 66-63 decision at Fordham last Saturday. He had spent most of the previous two-plus hours pacing, stomping, shouting and pleading with referees and Rhody players alike. But now, about a half hour after the final buzzer, he was sitting in the stands at Rose Hill, leaving the interview at one point to hug Fordham's Travion Leonard for a game well played, another time to exchange pleasantries with Fordham's new athletic director David Roach. His maniacal afternoon now behind him, Hurley tells Roach he hopes his theatrics didn't offend Fordham. Roach laughs, says all is good, and the two exchange handshakes before the interview resumes. "Where were we now?" Hurley asks. "Oh yeah," Hurley says, when reminded he was speaking of the many challenges the first-year Rhode Island head coach was facing this season. "Nothing prepares you for some of the stuff that you're dealing with in a program that you have to fix on just about every level. But if you love what you're doing and you're passionate about it, you dive in. I'm committed to making this a championship-caliber program. It's just not going to happen overnight." For all the successes the Hurley Family has had on the basketball court - from father Bob's continuing legendary run at St. Anthony HS in Jersey City to brother Bobby's magical four years at Duke to Dan's, at this point, more modest achievements at St. Benedict's HS and his brief but memorable stay at Wagner College - patience is not one of their virtues. "This is brutally hard, to lose and have to get on a bus for four hours and think about it the whole way home," Hurley said. "Then you get home and you go to bed and stare at the ceiling and beat yourself up over what you could have done better to put your guys over the top." Hurley, who posted a 38-23 mark in his two seasons at Wagner, including a 24-12 record in the Northeast Conference, left Continue Reading

Two suspects arrested in Rhode Island in shooting of Bronx teen

Two gangbangers suspected of killing an innocent Bronx teen who was just weeks from graduating high school were captured in Rhode Island, police sources said Saturday. News of the arrests came the same day Alphonza Bryant’s devastated mother eerily received her son’s acceptance email from LaGuardia Community College. “Ain’t that something?” said Jenaii Van Doten. “He can’t even go.” The two suspected gunmen who killed 17-year-old Alphonza were nabbed late Friday night, after a tipster told cops the pair had fled to the small town of Cumberland, the sources said. Investigators had been hunting for the duo after they were spotted on surveillance footage that shows them approaching the Foxhurst, Bronx, streetcorner where Alphonza was standing when he was gunned down on April 22. The suspects, who were not immediately identified, were waiting to be extradited back to New York. Alphonza, an aspiring architect who was about to graduate from Urban Assembly Bronx Studio for Writers and Artists, was standing with friends when the two suspects walked past the group on Fox St. The gun-toting pair returned a few minutes later and squeezed off at least nine rounds, one hitting Alphonza in the chest. Investigators believe the shooters were aiming for a Latin Kings member who was either standing nearby or had just left, sources said. The victim “was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” a cop source said. Van Doten, who now has a portrait of her slain son tattooed on her right arm, said the tragedy should be a wakeup call. “The message is in itself, to the parents as well, to avoid that life,” said Van Doten. “I hope his story shows the need for gun control.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

A daughter’s illness brings lessons in acceptance of things we can’t control

Tons and tons and tons of snow all around, falling twice (or was it three times?) last week, falling weekly since the day after Christmas. And still we complained and railed and worried about something over which we have no control. In the midst of the storms there was a powerful lesson about acceptance of things you can't change, and being thankful you don't have worse problems. The lesson was found in a tiny flake of a different kind, and the snow became just a backdrop. It started almost two weeks ago. Our younger daughter was with her father at her first-ever Rangers game, at Madison Square Garden, when the unmistakable, excruciating pain of a kidney stone stabbed her back and left side. She had had one before. But this one was worse, and she couldn't walk, so an ambulance brought her to the emergency room. After fluids and the wonderful morphine drip, it seemed the stone had passed, and we took her home about 3 a.m. She had passed one last year within a few hours, so it was a familiar drill. The next day she was just tired and feeling the after-effects. She was on track to go back to finish junior year at college in Rhode Island the following Monday. But over the weekend, the pain was back. We spent Saturday in another emergency room, more IV, more painkiller, a CAT scan. The doctor said there was a very small stone just about to pass, so again she went home with directions to keep drinking and take pain meds. On Sunday she was still in pain, the Percocets were making her stomach sick and she couldn't keep any water or broth or tea down. She was so distressed, and so upset because it was becoming clear that she wouldn't be going back to school the next day. There's nothing you can do, except keep asking - to the point of annoyance - "do you need anything? Can I get you something? Want your pillows straightened? Need another blanket? A cold compress for your head?" We knew she would eventually pass the stone, but there is nothing worse Continue Reading

Success at University of Rhode Island a Baron family affair

Rhode Island was picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic 10 in the league's preseason poll. The Rams had lost two-time all-league forward Will Daniels and guard Parfait Bitee, a defensive stopper and Portsmouth Invitational invitee, from a 21-win team that spent four weeks in the Top 25 and found its way into the NIT.But, just a week before the Atlantic 10 tournament begins in Atlantic City, the Rams, who have won 10 of their last 11, are 22-8 and holding onto second place in the league. Better yet, they are butting heads with Xavier and Dayton for the two or possibly three bids this traditionally underrated league most likely will receive. "The numbers don't lie," coach Jim Baron said. "We're 11-4 in a very credible league. During this latest stretch, we've beaten Dayton, which has a win over Marquette, and Temple, which defeated Tennessee. We have road wins over Duquesne, which just beat Xavier, and UMass, which has a win over Kansas on the road." The Rams' hot streak should be enough to impress some on the NCAA selection committee. Baron is just lucky St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli will not be making the final decision. Martelli, speaking on the weekly A-10 coaches' conference call, hit the Rams with a dose of reality when he made it obvious that he feels only Xavier and Dayton deserve strong consideration from the conference. "I was looking at it," Martelli said in a published report. "It's a year, so to speak when not enough non-BCS schools are having big enough seasons. "There is not a second at-large candidate today. Obviously the cards have been shuffled. The at-large bids for non-BCS schools are shrinking....The BCS schools listened to the committee (about improving non-conference schedules) and they've reacted." URI has been hurt by its weak non-league schedule when opponents such as FDU, Hartford, Brown and Toledo all had bad seasons. "In the case of Rhode Island, with 10 of their wins being against teams with more than 200 (RPI), that hurts the Rams," Continue Reading

Parents coming to grips with kids leaving for college

Thirty-two years ago this week, it was time to get ready for the first year of college. It was the end of a summer that saw the big Bicentennial flotilla in New York Harbor, disco in full swing, and "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz's first shooting, in Pelham Bay, which put a grip of terror on the city that was not eased until the following August. Times were simpler: For the first day at Fordham University, I just needed pens, notebooks, money for the No. 13 and No. 12 buses, and a new pair of bell-bottoms. Now, at the end of a summer that we'll remember for the ridiculous gas prices, exciting Olympic Games and a meaningless blur of presidential politics, I'm helping my daughter prepare for her freshman year at a college in Rhode Island. Things are a little more complex these days. The only similarity is that she bought some new bell-bottoms. There is the packing of all the clothes and toiletries, blow-dryer, fan, laptop, Guitar Hero, iPod dock and bed linens, and ordering a mini refrigerator, upgrading the cell phone and buying winter boots on a 90-degree day. And then there is the whole "big goodbye" to deal with. When we brought our older daughter to college in Vermont, it was a little different, and not just because the only electronics were a TV and a stereo. She was living far away and we really missed her, but we still had a little one at home, so there was no "empty nest" feeling. Now, we'll have no one home except the dog. It's a big step for my college-bound daughter, and for me. We spend a lot of time together and enjoy each other's company. We laugh at the same stupid things, quote from "Napoleon Dynamite," and can make each other cry at the same memory. But I was okay with it. I looked at it as a great thing, a maturing process. I thought how lucky she is to be in a beautiful spot, away on her own not having to worry about working to pay the tuition. (Her father made sure of that.) She could just enjoy the learning. (And learn the Continue Reading

Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island calls for tax on students at Brown University, all city colleges

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The mayor of Providence wants to slap a $150-per-semester tax on the 25,000 full-time students at Brown University and three other private colleges in the city, saying they use resources and should help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers. Mayor David Cicilline (sis-ah-LEEN-ee) said the fee would raise between $6 million and $8 million a year for the city, which is facing a $17 million deficit. If enacted, it would apparently be the first time a U.S. city has directly taxed students just for being enrolled. The proposal is still in its early stages. But it has riled some students, who say it would unfairly saddle them with the city's financial woes and overlook their volunteer work and other contributions, including money spent in restaurants, bars and stores. "We want to support the city as best we can, but financially is not really what we can afford to give," said Heather Lee, president of the Brown Graduate Student Council. "We're more able to provide labor, we're more able to apply the things that we're learning in the classroom, than we are to write a $300 check." Cities often look for revenue from universities to compensate for their tax-exempt status, and many schools already make voluntary payments to local governments. Providence's four private schools — Brown, Providence College, Johnson & Wales University and the Rhode Island School of Design — agreed in 2003 to pay the city nearly $50 million over 20 years. The idea of a student head tax has been floated before in other cities, generally to start discussions about collecting money from universities in lieu of taxes. But Tony Pals, spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said he knows of no city that charges students a direct fee. "The bottom line is, a tax like this has never gone into effect," Pals said. "The timing is also unfortunate, given the significant amount of budget-cutting that institutions have Continue Reading