Accountability For Abusive Clergy Is Ongoing

Feb 22, 2019

In 2002 the Cheyenne Police Department received a report that former Bishop Joseph Hart had sexually abused a teen in the 1970s. That case was not originally prosecuted, but was reopened in 2018.
Credit Public Domain Pictures

Efforts to hold sexually abusive clergy accountable are increasing after decades of inaction. This week Pope Francis convened Catholic leaders from around the world at the Vatican to discuss the matter. Closer to home, Colorado's Attorney General announced a statewide investigation into clergy abuse there. Meanwhile, in Wyoming, a police investigation into former Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart has been underway for eight months.

Hart's alleged abuse was first reported in 2002, but the investigation did not lead to prosecution. Officer Kevin Malatesta with the Cheyenne Police Department said additional information brought forward last summer by the Diocese of Cheyenne prompted the department to reopen the case.

"Those details coming from the Catholic Church are what enabled us to open this case," said Malatesta. "Having the Catholic leadership be willing to take that action and work with us, we see that as a huge step."

Malatesta said the department has continued to receive new information, which has extended the investigation, but he anticipates it will wrap up soon.

"We are getting onto the tail end of this investigation, and we don't expect it to be much longer until that's wrapped up. I wish I could put a time to that but unfortunately, that's just not the way it works," said Malatesta.

The department is working to complete the investigation, but anyone with information is encouraged to still come forward.