Police Finish Investigation into Retired Bishop Joseph Hart
For the second time in six months, police in Cheyenne, WY, have wrapped up an investigation into retired Bishop Joseph Hart. We hope that this investigation will again recommend charges be filed against him so that future children will be protected and so his victims will have a chance at justice in a court of law.
Cheyenne police first announced a recommendation of charges against Bishop Hart last August, but the local district attorney, Dan Itzen, asked that police re-open the investigation to interview more potential witnesses. Since that first investigation finished, more survivors have come forward in Kansas City, MO – where Bishop Hart was stationed before being sent to Wyoming – to allege abuse. Today, at least 17 different people have alleged abuse by Bishop Hart and we are hopeful that they will soon have their shot at justice.
As a prelate, Bishop Hart had immense power and stature. We can only imagine that there are victims – and victim suppression – in every single place he worked. We are very grateful to the police in Cheyenne for taking on the arduous task of investigating covered-up cases of abuse and for their dedication to finding the truth. We are also grateful to Bishop Steven Biegler, the current Bishop of Cheyenne, who first recommended that police investigate his predecessor and offered up his files to them. This move likely helped expedite the investigation and showed that Bishop Biegler is more interested in creating a safe place within his diocese than continuing to cultivate the secretive and dangerous place that Bishop Hart had created.
It is important to remember that a recommendation of charges is not a conviction and cases like these often face steep challenges. We urge anyone with information or suspicions about Bishop Hart to find the courage to call police and prosecutors immediately.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)