Still No Charges for Former Wyoming Bishop Despite Police Recommendations, SNAP Calls for Action
Despite two separate investigations and the recommendations from local police to file charges, Wyoming prosecutors have yet to take any steps forward. We call on the district attorney of Natrona County to make a public update on the case, explain his office’s delay in filing charges, and immediately take steps that can help prevent future cases of clergy sexual abuse.
In August 2019, Cheyenne police first announced a recommendation of charges against former Bishop Joseph Hart, but the local district attorney, Dan Itzen, asked that police reopen the investigation to interview more potential witnesses. Seven months later, in March 2020, police in Cheyenne, WY wrapped up that second investigation into Bishop Hart. Despite that second investigation finishing in a similar manner to the first, D.A. Itzen has yet to pursue charges.
We believe Mr. Itzen owes it to the public – and to the law enforcement officials who investigated the allegations against Bishop Hart – to explain why he has yet to take any action on those investigations. As of this writing, at least 17 different people have alleged abuse by the Bishop and the investigations into alleged abuse in Wyoming represent not only the best shot at justice for those victims but also a chance to prevent future abuse from occurring.
It is time for Natrona County to move forward on this case and it is time for Mr. Itzen to act on the recommendations of investigators and bring charges against Bishop Hart. Any further delays on the part of Mr. Itzen should compel Wyoming’s Attorney General to step in, take over the case, and keep children in Wyoming safe.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP 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)