University News

Medicine prof pleads not guilty to procuring alcohol for minors

Barrington police allege Bruce Becker provided alcohol to teens at a party he hosted

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Professor of Emergency Medicine and Behavioral and Social Sciences Bruce Becker pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of procuring alcohol for a minor at his arraignment in Providence District Court Wednesday.

Becker, a researcher at the University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, was arrested July 30 when police officers broke up a party at his Barrington, R.I., home. He will next appear in court Aug. 23 for a pretrial hearing, said Detective Lieutenant Dino DeCrescenzo of the Barrington Police Department.

Becker also works as an attending physician at Rhode Island Hospital and as medical director of the Rhode Island Free Clinic. Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn offered no comment on the investigation other than to confirm that Becker was a faculty member. Becker could not be reached for comment.

Complaints of loud music brought police to Becker’s home at 26 Bullock Ave. around 10:18 p.m. July 30, according to a report written by Barrington Patrolman Timothy Oser. When police arrived, they encountered three teenage males, who dropped beer cans they were holding and then jogged toward the backyard, Oser wrote.

Oser wrote that after following the teenagers, he encountered Becker, who allegedly said “Oh god the police are here; everyone run!” About 30 teenagers fled the yard in a “mass exodus” as the police approached, Oser wrote, leaving behind scattered beer cans, bottles of liquor and a table set up for playing beer pong.

Becker then allegedly reappeared from inside his house after changing from a white tank top into a button-down shirt, Oser wrote, adding that the doctor told police he was hosting the party for his son but had only bought soda for the teenagers.

“He said that he did see the police approach, and he did go in the back yard, but denied any knowledge of alcohol,” Oser wrote. “I told him that it was impossible due to the fact there were multiple containers scattered throughout the yard.”

Several minors refused to take preliminary breath tests before they were released, and Becker stood near the teenagers urging them to refrain from taking the tests, Oser wrote.

Becker was handcuffed, brought to police headquarters and charged with procuring alcohol for a minor, according to the arrest report. If convicted, Becker faces up to a $1,000 fine, six months in prison or both.

James  V. McDonald, chief of the state medical board, wrote in an email to the Providence Journal that the board was aware of Becker’s case and that all “complaints and investigations are confidential until final adjudication,” the Journal reported Wednesday.


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  1. The professor did nothing unethical or immoral. Our country needs to reform its impractical and senseless drinking laws. There is nothing wrong with a 17 or 18 year-old consuming a beer.

    This article veers towards sensationalism, in that it describes supposedly lewd behavior as unbecoming from a professor. This is not news but rather, infotainment. As a professor of emergency medicine, Becker is well-aware of the risks coming from prohibition, including binge drinking and a reliance on hard liquor.

    • learnnothing says:

      The only thing wrong with a 17-18-year-old drinking beer is that it is illegal. It is also illegal for an adult to give the beer to them. The way it works in this country is: if you don’t like a law, you have the right to work to get it changed, but you are not above the law.

      It does not matter how much analysis you do on this. It is still illegal.

      Lewd behavior IS unbecoming of a professor. Lewd behavior is unbecoming of that professor. But ok we can make one exception. If that professor is lewd to your mother, then it’s ok.

  2. On the other hand, as a professor of emergency medicine and an attending physician at the state’s only Level I trauma center, he should be equally aware of the risks of underage drinking and injuries associated with that activity. Regardless of your opinion on the drinking age in the United States, his behavior was inappropriate.




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