Cleared of wrongdoing.
The bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese was exonerated Thursday of an allegation of inappropriate conduct from years ago.
Barely a week ago, a report surfaced about a possible inappropriate relationship involving Bishop Kevin Rhoades and a male teenager who has since died, dating back to the 1990's, when Rhoades served as a priest in Pennsylvania.
Fran Chardo, the Dauphin County District Attorney in Harrisburg, released a statement, saying he determined "there is no basis to conclude Bishop Rhoades ever engaged in a criminal or otherwise improper relationship."
The local Diocese referred to the D.A.'s findings, saying the relationship was "in the context of pastoral care and arose out of the recognized tradition of prison ministry."
A Bishop Luers graduate we spoke with says he sat down and talked at length with Bishop Rhoades in the past.
"He puts off a really positive, trustworthy vibe, so when I heard these allegations come I really wasn't concerned, but at the same time there's no telling, so it's a big relief to know (he's cleared)," Jacob Gibson said.
The diocese thanked the D.A. for the swift resolution, adding, "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."
This development certainly is good news for the bishop, but there still may be some work required to fully restore his credibility.
"While people can have a very short attention span, people do have a memory," said Anthony Juliano, who helps people with reputation management issues.
"Public perception may not be fair, it may not be something you like, but then it becomes all the more important to manage it and to be careful about how you respond to the allegations, how you comport yourself moving forward," said Juliano, who works for the Asher Agency.
The diocese also said it stands firm in sympathy and support for all victims of child sexual abuse and encourages victims to report allegations.
The bishop recently pledged to make public the names of priests in this area who are linked to credible sexual abuse allegations, going back 60 years or more.
He hoped that list could come out in a matter of weeks, not months.