Police: Wyoming prosecutor says bishop abuse case still open

Associated Press

June 22, 2020

A criminal investigation into a retired Roman Catholic bishop accused of childhood sexual abuse by more than a dozen men remains open, police in Wyoming said.

A victim advocate from the Natrona County district attorney’s office had told an alleged victim that retired Bishop Joseph Hart would not be charged, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Asked why he wasn’t pursuing charges, District Attorney Dan Itzen told Cheyenne police Friday that he is still pursuing charges and the case has not been officially closed, police spokesman David Inman said.

Police and Itzen realized the prosecutor misread or misunderstood details in a probable cause affidavit, Inman said.

Itzen’s office in Casper had received the case after the district attorney in Cheyenne recused herself. Part of the misunderstanding arose from a difference in how police in Cheyenne and Casper handle paperwork, Inman said.

“Basically it was, ‘Oh I didn’t know this and this is what you meant by this and this.’ That’s what’s causing the case to come back to life,” Inman said. “They’re going to convene with their guys, they’re going to call the chief, and we’re going to meet again.”

Communication between police and prosecutors had been difficult, Inman said.

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