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Wyoming priest appears on list of abusive Catholic clergy in Illinois

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St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Diocese of Cheyenne covers all of Wyoming, including St. Anthony's in Casper, where Father Rocco Perone likely abused multiple children.

The Illinois Attorney General published an investigative report this week documenting the abuse of 1,900 children at the hands of some 450 Catholic clerics, going back decades.

A priest from St. Anthony's parish in Casper was among those found to be credibly accused of sexual abuse in Illinois.

As first reported by the Casper Star-Tribune, the priest, Father Rocco Perone, died in 1992. He was already named as a likely sexual abuser by the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne in 2019.

Investigative reporting has found that for decades, the Catholic Church moved abusive priests between parishes to avoid consequences. This allowed those abusive priests to hurt children in multiple locations, often across state lines.

One such priest was former Bishop Joseph Hart, who was the head of the Catholic Church in Wyoming for nearly a quarter-century. According to a 2018 review by non-clergy in Wyoming and additional investigative reporting, Hart very likely abused children both in Wyoming and in his former state of Missouri.

The investigation in Illinois was inspired by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report from 2018, which documented the abuse of more than 1,000 children in that state. Other states have conducted similar investigations and uncovered similar results. Another investigation published last month looked at just the Archdiocese of Baltimore and found evidence for the abuse of 600 children. The report, like each of these investigations, notes that abuse — and especially child sexual abuse — goes underreported and the the true numbers are likely much higher.

The Catholic Church has consistently fought changes to state laws that would help its victims.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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