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Bishop: Covington Catholic Students' Behavior 'Laudatory'

Diocese completes investigation into viral Washington, DC, confrontation
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2019 4:58 PM CST
In a Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019 file photo, now covers the grounds of Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky.   (AP Photo/Lisa Cornwell)

(Newser) – The Diocese of Covington's investigation into the viral Washington, DC, confrontation between Covington Catholic students and a Native American elder is complete, and the official word from Bishop Rev. Roger Foys is that the students from the Kentucky high school did not initiate the incident and their behavior was what "one might even [call] laudatory," he says, per Cincinnati.com. CNN notes that the diocese had condemned the students' behavior in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Greater Cincinnati Investigation Inc. spoke to more than 40 students as well as some of the chaperones from the trip to DC as part of its probe, though Nick Sandmann, the student who became central to the controversy, was not interviewed. Neither was Nathan Phillips, the Native American elder who confronted the teen on video.

Specifically, the investigation found no evidence that the students made any racist remarks or chanted "Build the Wall," as was widely reported in the immediate aftermath of the incident. It also found that many of the students felt "confused," initially believing Phillips was joining their group to add to their cheers, and that some of them did indeed perform "tomahawk chops" to the beat of his drumming and/or joined in with his chanting. "The immediate worldwide 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 truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening." Also making headlines this week: reports that Sandmann's legal team is considering a defamation lawsuit against media outlets. (Phillips says he forgives Sandmann.)

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