Former Bishop Hart And His Attorney Respond To Abuse Allegations
On Monday, K2Radio.com published a press release verbatim from Bishop Steven Biegler of the Diocese of Cheyenne, which covers the geographical area of Wyoming.
The press release alleged Bishop Emeritus Joseph Hart had sexually abused two boys while he was Auxiliary Bishop and Bishop of the diocese and the results of an investigation about those allegations in 2002.
Monday, Hart's attorney Tom Jubin was unsuccessful in sending to K2Radio.com a response to the diocese's statement. The response also includes a statement from Hart himself.
Tuesday, Jubin was successful in sending the response, and we are printing it verbatim here.
"CHEYENNE – Today, the Diocese of Cheyenne issued a bizarre press release that is both shocking and appalling, suggesting that current Bishop Biegler has some personal interest in substantiating sexual abuse allegations against one of his predecessors. Bishop Biegler expressed 'hope' that decades-old accusations of sexual abuse against former Bishop Hart would be found credible. Bishop Biegler’s extraordinary prejudgment that he hopes unsubstantiated allegations against Bishop Hart prove to be 'credible and require disciplinary action' shows gross insensitivity. One would hope, for the sake of the alleged victims, if no one else, that he would hope such accusations are not true.
"Further, Bishop Biegler’s implication that a respected public servant, former Natrona County District Attorney Kevin Meenan, conducted a ‘flawed’ investigation when looking into this matter 16 years ago and was implicitly indifferent to seeking the truth is actionable defamation.
"Although, how he handles the status of priests within his diocese is entirely at his discretion, Bishop Biegler should know that the diocese is in no way capable or charged by law with running a criminal investigation. Nor does a private investigator whose findings are not public and tested in a court of law, have standing to determine what is 'credible' or 'substantiated' in accordance with due process and the presumption of innocence.
"This issue is reportedly and properly in the hands of local law enforcement, who have the skills, experience, and, presumably, lack of bias to pursue a credible investigation. I remind Bishop Biegler that law enforcement looked into these allegations more than fifteen years ago and concluded the allegations were not credible, and that my client, Bishop Hart, continues to strenuously deny any such allegations are true.
"Instead of allowing justice to take its course, Bishop Biegler is improperly seeking to inflame public opinion against one of his predecessors for unfathomable reasons. This is the opposite of seeking truth or justice."
In response to the press release, Bishop Hart issued the following statement:
"I was recently made aware that an allegation first made against me fifteen years ago regarding an incident that allegedly occurred twenty years before that is being reviewed once again by authorities. I learned by its press release today, that the Diocese claims there is now an allegation by a second man, unidentified to me.
"An investigation held immediately after this allegation first came to light in 2002, led by then Natrona County District Attorney Kevin Meenan, concluded that the accusations had, in Mr. Meenan’s words, “no merit.” I am confident these processes will, in the end, come to a similar conclusion.
"I fully cooperated with the investigation led by Mr. Meenan and will do so again with those re-reviewing this matter once more.
"In the interest of fairness to all involved, I have no further comment except to say that I will continue to pray that those who have suffered abuse, no matter at whose hands, receive justice and healing."