(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses a Republican state senator of extorting sex from a page in the Rhode Island Senate page program.
The indictment was unsealed as Senate Minority Whip Nicholas Kettle was arraigned on two counts of extortion in Providence Superior Court. Kettle, 27, of Coventry, 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.”
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 was indicted last week, but the details of the extortion counts remained sealed over the weekend. State police separately charged him with video voyeurism Friday for allegedly sending pictures of his ex-girlfriend’s “private parts.”
The indictment says Kettle coerced a male page into sex on two occasions in 2011. The indictment names the victim, but The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes. The person’s LinkedIn profile says he served as a page from February 2011 to May 2012.
Kettle did not speak to reporters outside court and did not comment on whether he would resign, but his lawyer described the alleged victim as a political rival of Kettle’s. State elections records show he ran against Kettle as an independent in 2014, three years after the alleged extortion.
House Minority Leader Dennis Algiere has also called on Kettle to resign.
Senate spokesman Greg Pare says the Senate page program includes 67 pages, all hired at the recommendation of senators. He said pages range in age from 15 through college age. Pare said Kettle’s alleged victim did not lodge any complaints while he was a page.