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Bishop: CovCath students did not instigate D.C. incident and student behavior was commendable

The Diocese of Covington’s investigation involving Covington Catholic students in Washington D.C. that went viral is over and found that the students did not “instigate the incident.”

On Wednesday, Bishop Rev. Roger Foys said his hopes had been realized in that the students were exonerated and that they “can move forward with their lives.”

The investigation was done by Greater Cincinnati Investigation Inc. in Taylor Mill.

More: Nick Sandmann of CovCath may face challenges in proving defamation, experts say

More: Analysis: What the video from the incident at the Indigenous Peoples March tell us about what happened

Multiple videos of Covington Catholic students interacting with a Native American elder and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites went viral in January after the national March for Life in Washington D.C. Jan. 18 The investigation breaks down the videos and highlights interviews with parents and students who were present at the incident.

“The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that our students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality,” Foys said in the letter to parents. “In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening.”

Foys said the reaction of the students was expected and “one might even say laudatory.”

More than 40 students were interviewed, as well as some of the 16 chaperones who went to D.C. Nick Sandmann, a Covington Catholic student featured in the video, and Nathan Phillips, the Native American man who approaches the crowd of students, were not interviewed in the investigation.

“We have nothing more to add,” a statement to local media said.

Here’s what the investigation found: 

  • No evidence was found that students performed a “Build the Wall” chant or made racist remarks to the Black Hebrew Israelites or Phillips
  • Most of the students felt like (Phillips) was coming into their group to join in with the students’ cheers, investigators said. None of the students said they felt threatened by Phillips and many stated they were “confused.”
  • Video shows that some students performed a “tomahawk chop” to the beat of Phillips’ drumming and some joined in with his chant.
  • Nine chaperones reported being present at the Lincoln Memorial when the main interactions took place. Investigators said video confirms at least five chaperones were present.
  • Chaperones said they didn’t feel that students were in danger or threatened.
  • In regards to the “It’s not rape if you enjoy it” video, investigators said the man in the video was not a Covington Catholic student.
  • In regards to the 7-second video of two students making comments to two women, investigators said they could not determine if the students were from Covington Catholic.