A Pennsylvania District Attorney announced Thursday that an Indiana bishop accused of sexual misconduct has been cleared of all wrong-doing following “a full investigation.”
District Attorney Fran Chardo of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, said that his office’s investigation found no evidence that Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades committed any sexual misconduct with a minor identified only as J.T. Chardo and the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said that while they believe the accuser genuinely thought there had been sexual misconduct and want real allegations should come forward, this particular case caused unnecessary harm to Rhoades. (RELATED: Pope Francis Doubles Down On Satan Accusing The Church Claim, Tells Christians To Accuse Themselves)
“After a full investigation, the Dauphin County district attorney has determined that there is no basis to conclude that Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ever engaged in a criminal or otherwise improper relationship with a person whom we will refer to as J.T.,” Chardo’s statement reads.
A cousin of J.T., who died in 1996, reported to the diocese of Harrisburg that he remembered Rhoades traveling with J.T. when J.T. was a minor. The cousin thought the idea of a minor traveling alone with a bishop was odd and possibly hinted at sexual abuse.
Rhoades, however, denied any misconduct, saying that the trip with J.T. was an extension of his prison ministry, according to Crux Now. The boy was out on parole at the time and, since Rhoades was traveling to Puerto Rico, asked the bishop to take him along so that he could visit his grandmother. Rhoades agreed.
The implication of sexual abuse in the cousin’s report, however, was leaked to the media.
The diocese issued a statement following Rhoades’ exoneration, saying that the case highlighted the importance of due process.
“While it’s important that allegations be brought forward, it’s equally important for due process to take place. The result of this investigation underscores the importance of allowing appropriate authorities to determine credibility of accusations before the reputation of any individual is impugned in the court of public opinion,” the diocese said, according to National Catholic Register.
Chardo echoed the diocese’s sentiment, saying that public speculation had brought undue harm to Rhoades.
“This has been a case of a public airing of mere speculation of impropriety with no foundation. In this case, the leaking of what turned out to be an unfounded report did unnecessary harm. This has done a disservice to actual victims of sexual abuse. It has also caused significant and unnecessary harm to Bishop Rhoades,” Chardo said.
The district attorney did, however, encourage “reports of any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement,” saying that once such reports are made, law enforcement should investigate them fully without interference from public speculation.
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