HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – A Roman Catholic Bishop who serves a diocese in Indiana that includes Notre Dame University is under investigation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he formerly worked, a district attorney said on Thursday.
Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo said the investigation involves Bishop Kevin Rhoades, 60, who is now the head of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Dauphin County includes the state capital of Harrisburg.
The information was referred to the district attorney by the Diocese of Harrisburg and relates to Rhoades’ alleged interaction with a high school boy as a parish priest prior to becoming the nation’s youngest Catholic bishop in Harrisburg in 2004, Chardo said.
“We are conducting further inquiry,” Chardo told Reuters. “We will follow the leads wherever they go.”
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend issued a statement on its website Thursday night on behalf of Rhoades.
“Bishop Rhoades adamantly denies any validity to this accusation and the insinuation of inappropriate behavior,” the diocese said. “He did nothing wrong, and is confident any investigation will bear this out.”
Chardo said the alleged victim, who has not been named, died in the mid-1990s. He said the information received and relayed by the diocese was not specific as to physical or sexual abuse.
“No one claimed to see anything,” Chardo said. “They said the relationship seemed odd.”
No one from the Diocese of Harrisburg could be reached for comment Thursday night.
Pennsylvania’s state attorney general issued a lengthy report last month saying Roman Catholic priests in the state sexually abused thousands of children over a 70-year-period, which was systematically covered up by bishops.