In a letter posted on their website, the Diocese of Covington declared that the Covington Catholic school children had been exonerated of all wrongdoing. This was based on an investigation by “a third party firm that has no connection with Covington Catholic High School or the Diocese of Covington”.
Reverend Roger J. Foys cited a report by greater Cincinnati Investigation Inc, claiming that the report “demonstrated that our students did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial”. He described the students reaction, in a setting which was “at once bizarre and even threatening”, as laudatory.
The investigative report involved four investigators devoting 240 man hours to interviewing 43 Covington students, 13 chaperones and reviewing 50 hours of internet activity.
Their investigation found, among other things, no evidence of the students responding to taunts from a Black Hebrew Israelites group with offensive or racist statements of their own. They also found no such statements uttered by the students towards Nathan Phillips. The investigation found no evidence that the student performed a “Build the Wall” chant, and found evidence that chaperones instructed the students to not engage with the Black Hebrew Israelites, under threat of detention.
Though the report makes no conclusion as to the merits of the behavior of the students, it has been seen as an exoneration by the Diocese of Covington, as well as much of the media.
The report did not find that Nick Sandmann or any other student approached Nathan Phillips to cause the confrontation which sparked this controversy. The report concluded that Mr. Phillips approached the students. It did not find that Nathan Phillips had been the victim of racist or offensive statements. The report concluded that the Covington Catholic students had been the recipient of offensive statements from Black Hebrew Israelites.
The report concludes an investigation which has been a stark reminder of the perils of the rush to judgement.