DPW employee fired following arrest on sexual assault charge

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A Johnston resident and longtime employee of the town’s Department of Public Works was arrested last week on a charge of felony second-degree sexual assault in connection with an alleged incident involving a teenage girl.

Robert Gagne, 61, 27 Harding St., Johnston, was taken into custody after he responded to Johnston Police headquarters on March 27, according to a report from Detective Brian M. Loffredi.

Gagne was arraigned at Kent County District Court on the same day and entered no plea. He was issued a no-contact order for the alleged victim and his bail was set at $20,000 with surety. His next court date is scheduled for June 19.

Loffredi’s report, which is highly redacted, states that the alleged victim told police that Gagne touched her inappropriately and in a sexual manner during an incident in March. Loffredi’s report indicates Gagne denied the allegations after he responded to police headquarters.

Mayor Joseph Polisena said Wednesday that Gagne’s employment with the town has been terminated. He said a pre-disciplinary hearing was held earlier in the day with members of the administration and representatives of Gagne’s union, after which a letter was issued to Gagne notifying him of the decision on his employment status.

The mayor declined to provide further comment on the matter.

Public Works Director Arnold Vecchione on Wednesday said Gagne had been employed by the department for approximately 14 years. He also declined to comment further.

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