Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese has been cleared of sexual misconduct allegations by the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania district attorney.
Bishop Rhoades was accused of misconduct by the family of a man who died in 1996. The incident allegedly occurred while Rhoades was serving in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where numerous allegations of sexual abuse came out of a grand jury investigation last month.
A new statement by the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese said the allegation against Rhoades arose from a pastoral care appointment at a prison.
The Dauphin County district attorney determined that there is no basis to conclude that Rhoades engaged in a criminal or otherwise improper relationship.
At the time the grand jury released its finding Bishop Rhoades announced the diocese would put out a list of all credible allegations made against clergy in the Fort Wayne-South Bend area. A spokesperson for the diocese said that list should be out ‘soon’ adding ‘we’re not talking about a matter of months.’
The full statement from the diocese on the allegations against Rhoades reads “The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend appreciates the swift and thorough investigation into the unsubstantiated allegation against Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. As anticipated, the investigation exonerated Bishop Rhoades. The district attorney found the allegation was without merit and stated, “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.” The relationship in question was, “in the context of pastoral care and arose out of the recognized tradition of prison ministry.”
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 of Fort Wayne-South Bend stands firm in sympathy and support for all victims of child sexual abuse and encourages victims to report allegations. Bishop Rhoades expresses his gratitude for the support he has received from parishioners during the past week. He states, “I have offered up the pain of this difficult time for the victim survivors of child sexual abuse.”