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Diocese: 3 new allegations found credible in sex abuse case

CHEYENNE — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne announced Tuesday that three new allegations by Wyoming child abuse victims against retired Bishop Joseph Hart have been deemed credible and substantiated.

In July and August 2018, the diocese announced it had conducted a canonical investigation and concluded that Hart abused three Wyoming boys. Since the original announcement, three more substantiated allegations came against Hart.

This means a total of six victims have come forward to the church and were found to be credible.

These three new victims said Hart abused them in the 1970s and 1980s. The news release put out by the diocese Tuesday said the allegations have been reported to civil authorities.

Cheyenne Police spokesman Officer David Inman said the police department is aware of the news release and is sticking with the original charges that it forwarded recently to Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove. So far, Manlove has not commented on the case, and no charges have been filed against Hart in Laramie County Circuit Court.

Inman said the department isn’t commenting further on the case, and it will be up to the detectives on the case to determine what to do with the new allegations.

Father Carl Gallinger, vicar general of the diocese, confirmed the police department has been notified of the new allegations.

The diocese has been investigating the new allegations since June, and the investigation was led by Bishop Steven Biegler, according to the news release. Hart declined to be interviewed and respond to the allegations as part of the investigation. He has consistently denied the allegations in the past.

The results of the investigation were then given to the Diocesan Review Board, and it found the three new allegations credible and substantiated, according to the release. The results were then forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Aquila of Denver and Bishop Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph also were sent copies of the investigation report.

“I applaud the victims who have come forward to report sexual abuse to the police or the church,” Biegler said in the news release. “Your courageous action helps us to address these terrible crimes, and your example encourages other victims to find their voice.

“As the church, we promise to protect the most vulnerable and to accompany those who have been harmed on a journey of healing.”