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from the Restoring Trust department

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 03, 2004

The Diocese of Cheyenne announces a reassuring advance report on its clergy abuse audit:

Fourteen "credible" allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors were lodged against nine Roman Catholic priests in Wyoming over the past 53 years, Bishop David Ricken said Monday, citing results of an internal investigation.

None of the priests is still a member of the clergy or in active ministry.

The Diocese of Cheyenne, which guides the church's activities in Wyoming, released the findings of its audit in advance of a confidential survey of the nation's 195 dioceses.

"None of the priests is still a member of the clergy..." Odd. We read just the other day that the retired bishop of Cheyenne, Joseph Hart, has been accused of sexual abuse on at least two separate occasions, and is currently a co-respondent in a civil suit in which nine plaintiffs are seeking damages from three Kansas City priests.

"We have a cabal of priests who together and separately engaged in sexual abuse and molestation of children for in excess of 30 years," said Rebecca Randles, attorney for the plaintiffs, at a news conference outside the [Kansas City] Catholic chancery. "We needed to include all of these plaintiffs so you could see the extent and duration of abuse these poor children suffered." ...

Hart had denied earlier abuse allegations reported in The Kansas City Star in April 2002. The report revealed that the diocese had spent thousands of dollars on two families in the 1990s for counseling and a new pickup after they accused Hart of sexual abuse.

Hart insists he is innocent of all abuse charges, and as the recent accusations have not even come to trial he can't be given the thumbs-down. But Bishop Ricken claims to have come clean, not with proven allegations, but with credible allegations -- which by any calculus should include those against Hart.

There must, of course, be a good reason why Hart was excluded from Ricken's All Clear signal. And there must be an even better reason why this good reason was not made public. My own hunch is that it might interfere with the healing process.

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