Wyoming Reopens Dormant Clergy Sex Abuse Case

National Public Radio

September 27, 2018

By Tennessee Watson

Following the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse by clergy, there has been a nationwide call for action and accountability. But in many states prosecutors have run out of time to press charges.

There are just a handful of states with no statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes. One of them is Wyoming, and that’s given the Diocese of Cheyenne and the police there a chance to reopen an old case.

Back in 2002, a victim called the Cheyenne Police Department to report that a former bishop, Joseph Hart, had sexually abused him in the late 1970s. Hart had served as Bishop of Cheyenne from 1978 to 2001. But the victim was reluctant to do a full interview with police. After a three month investigation, the district attorney cleared Hart, saying there was no evidence.

Steven Biegler, the current Bishop of Cheyenne, says for too long those in power have controlled the conversation. When he became bishop in Wyoming a little over a year ago, he immediately launched an investigation into the unresolved allegations against retired bishop Hart.

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