Rhode Island Senate Minority Whip Nicholas Kettle, 27, was arraigned on two counts of extortion on Monday
A Republican state senator has been charged with extorting sex from a male page in Rhode Island, according to a grand jury indictment.
Senate Minority Whip Nicholas Kettle, from Coventry, was arraigned on two counts of extortion in Providence Superior Court on Monday, as the indictment was unsealed.
Kettle, 27, was indicted and arrested at his job in Richmond last week, but the details of the extortion counts remained sealed over the weekend.
The indictment says Kettle coerced a male page into sex on two occasions in 2011 – the senator’s first year in the General Assembly.
It adds that Kettle threatened to injure the page or harm his reputation if he didn’t comply.
State police separately charged Kettle with video voyeurism on Friday for allegedly sending pictures of his ex-girlfriend’s ‘private parts.’
The alleged victim, Zachary Farnum, served as a page from February 2011 to May 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. Legislative pages, who are usually students between age 15 and college-age, run errands for lawmakers.
Kettle appears in Superior Court in Providence on Monday. The indictment says Kettle coerced a male page into sex on two occasions in 2011
The alleged victim, Zachary Farnum, served as a page from February 2011 to May 2012
Farnun is the son of retired state police lieutenant and now works as a publicist for country music artists in Nashville, according to the Providence Journal.
Kettle pleaded not guilty and was released on $50,000 personal recognizance.
He did not speak to reporters outside court and did not comment on whether he would resign, but his lawyer described Farnum as a political rival of Kettle’s.
‘The first thing that strikes me is who the victim is. I don’t know the young man but I know he ran against my client,’ Kettle’s attorney Paul DiMaio said, the Providence Journal reported.
‘I would think that if the person he ran against had some ‘dirt’ on the guy he’s running against, he would have raised it at some point and time… It certainly affects someone’s credibility.’
State elections records show Farnum ran against Kettle for the District 21 Senate seat in 2014 as an independent, three years after the alleged extortion.
He received nine per cent of the vote in the three-way race.
Farnun now works as a publicist for country music artists in Nashville, Tennessee
Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio called for Kettle to resign immediately
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.
‘As President of the Senate, as a father, and as a grandfather, I am absolutely horrified and disgusted by these allegations. We in the Senate are deeply shaken,” Ruggerio said,’ he said.
Kettle has refused to step down from the Senate since state police began investigating him last month.
If he continues to refuse to step down, the Senate will pursue his expulsion, Ruggerio said. He added that 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.
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.