Sex abuse allegations against former KC priest ‘credible,’ Wyoming diocese says

Kansas City Star

July 2, 2018

By Judy L. Thomas

A former Kansas City priest who went on to become a Wyoming bishop has been credibly accused of sexually abusing two boys, the bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne said Monday in a surprise announcement in which he criticized a previous investigation by civil authorities as “flawed.”

Bishop Steven Biegler, of the Diocese of Cheyenne, said he was continuing restrictions placed years ago on Bishop-Emeritus Joseph Hart after a new investigation into allegations that he sexually abused two Wyoming boys found the claims to be “credible and substantiated.”

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children,” Biegler said. “We have zero tolerance for sexual abuse of any kind. If there is ever any indication of abuse brought to our attention, it will be reported to the civil authorities and investigated thoroughly, even when the allegations involve a bishop.”

Hart, 86, served as Bishop or Auxiliary Bishop of Cheyenne from 1976 to 2001. He was a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph from 1956 to 1976.

Starting in 1989 and after, several men alleged that Hart had sexually abused them when he was a priest in Kansas City and they were boys. In 2002, a Wyoming man accused Hart of sexually abusing him as a boy. The abuse, the man said, occurred in sacramental confession and on outings after Hart had become bishop.

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