11 former clergy accused of sexual abuse by Wyoming diocese

(Mead Gruver | AP) This photo shows the offices for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne and the Cathedral of St. Mary, Thursday, June 13, 2019 in Cheyenne, Wyo. The diocese has published a list of 11 former clergy in Wyoming it says have had substantiated claims of sexual abuse made against them.

Cheyenne, Wyo. • Roman Catholic officials in Wyoming for the first time have published a list of former clergy they say have had substantiated claims of sexual abuse against them.

The Wyoming Catholic Register newsletter mailed Wednesday the names of 11 accused clergy who served in Wyoming. They include a bishop, priests and a member of a religious order.

Church officials said in 2018 that former Bishop Joseph Hart faces substantiated allegations by three men who say he abused them as boys in the late 1970s. Hart worked as a bishop and auxiliary bishop in Cheyenne from 1976 to 2001. He has denied the allegations, one of which first became public in the early 2000s.

The other 10 former clergy listed in the June newsletter weren’t previously named by the Diocese of Wyoming. They are accused of abusing male and female children and one vulnerable adult between the late 1950s and late 1990s.

No clergy with substantiated abuse claims against them have served in Wyoming since at least 2004, according to the newsletter.

“On behalf of the church, I apologize to each victim, not only for the misconduct of those who committed sexual abuse but also for the failure of any church leader who did not take appropriate action after having received a report of an allegation,” Bishop Steven Biegler wrote in the newsletter.

The Cheyenne Diocese is the latest of about 130 dioceses and religious orders to issue lists of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse since a Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August named more than 300 predator priests.

All abuse claims tied to Wyoming have been referred to police where the abuse allegedly occurred, diocese Chancellor Patti Loehrer told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Police in Cheyenne are wrapping up a church abuse investigation that took longer and was more complex than expected, Cheyenne Police Department spokesman Kevin Malatesta said Thursday.

“I can say that investigation branched out,” Malatesta said. “We fully investigated all these tips coming in, and any time we get new information it kind of leads us down additional paths.”

Wyoming law prevents police from naming suspects in sexual abuse cases. Details of the case align with the allegations against Hart.