A view of the Westerly Town Hall in April 2017. This image was originally posted to Flickr by jjbers at https://flickr.com/photos/148374920@N02/34021493295. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Westerly Democrats months ago had asked embattled party chairman Robert Ritacco to resign, according to Town Councilman Chris Duhamel. Ritacco, Duhamel said, resigned yesterday after being charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault.

Ritacco, a former town councilman and zoning board member, was indicted by a statewide grand jury Monday. He also served as treasurer for the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs.

The charges stem from an incident on May 29 last year, according to the Attorney General’s office. Ritacco, 52, is scheduled for arraignment on May 23.

Yesterday afternoon, Ritacco reportedly sent an email to members of the Westerly Democratic Town Committee saying he planned to take a leave of absence. Duhamel said Ritacco resigned. Ritacco reportedly also said he would take a leave of absence as treasurer of the Association of City and Town Chairs.

Ritacco has held onto the chairmanship of the Westerly Democratic Committee in spite of incidents in the past in which he reportedly marketed himself as an accountant, but lacked proper credentials; and in 2007 was charged with falsely reporting a crime in connection with the alleged disappearance of his state-issued laptop computer when working as a tax auditor, according to the Westerly Sun. The misdemeanor charge was later dismissed because it was determined he was charged under the wrong section of the law.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.