Group calls on church to send accused former Wyoming bishop to remote Kansas friary
A national group of victims of priest abuse called on the Catholic Church on Monday to send former Wyoming Bishop Joseph Hart to a friary in rural Kansas, which would mean expelling him from his diocese-owned home in Cheyenne.
“When an abuser is suspended or gets older, he’s not magically cured, so even after ousting or even defrocking sex offending clerics, the Catholic hierarchy has a duty to safeguard others from them,” the group, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said Monday in a statement.
Hart has been accused since at least the early 1990s of sexually abusing boys, with some victims saying he abused them as far back as 1963. He has consistently denied those allegations. His former diocese, in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, has settled with 10 men who say they were abused by Hart. An additional four men have come forward in Missouri in just the past year, the diocese there told the Star-Tribune.
In Wyoming, where Hart was bishop from 1976 to 2001, Cheyenne police launched an investigation last summer into his alleged past misconduct in the capital city. At least three victims have come forward in Wyoming and accused Hart of abuse, according to the Diocese of Cheyenne. Two weeks ago, police announced that they were recommending charges against two men related to clergy abuse.
Citing state statute, police have refused to name either man, but details provided by police align with Hart.
Since at least 2002, when Hart was investigated by police after a victim in Wyoming came forward and alleged the former bishop had abused him in the mid-1970s, Hart has lived in a gated commun...