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Wyoming police seek abuse charges against Catholic priests, bishop


Associated Press - August 16, 2019

CHEYENNE, WyY (AP) — Wyoming police have recommended sexual abuse charges against a member of the Catholic clergy and another man in connection with events in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports the Cheyenne Police Department made the recommendation to the Laramie County District Attorney's Office regarding abuse of boys.

The men were not identified in a police statement that says one man was a clergy member and the other was seeking clergy membership at the time. Police say the investigation stems from a 2002 case that was reopened in 2018 following an investigation by the Wyoming Diocese of the Catholic Church.

The diocese released a report in June 2019 naming 11 people believed to have been involved in abuse of 29 minors and a vulnerable adult between 1957 and 2003. 

A former Catholic bishop is among those 11 people and is now facing multiple allegations of sexual abuse of boys during his career, including 25 years in Wyoming. The Casper Star-Tribune reports at least three Wyoming men say former Bishop Joseph Hart abused them while he worked in the Diocese of Cheyenne.  

A spokesman for the Kansas City, MO, diocese says it settled lawsuits in 10 other cases involving Hart over the years.
Four people have leveled abuse claims against Hart in the past year. Hart led the diocese from 1976 until 2001

Hart has consistently denied allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct, while his attorney has not responded to repeated messages seeking comment.

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