The Covington Catholic High School boys did not say any “offensive or racist statements” to American Indian activist Nathan Phillips in a well-known encounter in mid-January, according to investigation results released Wednesday.
An initial video made it seem like the boys donning Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats were taunting Phillips, who banged a drum and chanted a prayer following the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18. Many believed Nick Sandmann, the student face-to-face with Phillips, was smirking and was disrespectful. A full version of the video, however, shows the boys were insulted by Black Hebrew Israelites before Phillips approached the group.
Other videos that circulated around social media included one boy in the Covington Catholic students’ group saying “it’s not rape if you enjoy it” and a seven second video of a group of boys making comments to two girls.
Findings from the report prepared by Greater Cincinnati Investigation, Inc. (GCI) and shared by Fox 19 included:
- No proof that the Covington Catholic boys yelled “Build a Wall,’
- No proof that the Covington Catholic boys were disrespectful to the Black Hebrew Israelites,
- Some Convington Catholic boys did “tomahawk chops” to the drum beat and some students chanted with Phillips,
- The rape comment was made by a boy who did not attend the school,
- Investigators were unable to confirm what the boys said to the women in the seven second video and whether they were affiliated with Covington Catholic,
- Investigators observed inconsistencies with Phillips’s public statements.
Investigators were unable to interview Phillips nor Sandmann in person so they relied on student’s written account.
“The statements we obtained from students and chaperones are remarkably consistent,” the report said.
CGI hired four licensed investigators who worked 240 hours, interviewed 43 students and 16 chaperones and sifted through 50 hours of videos on YouTube, news networks and social media.
Bishop of Covington Roger Foys sent a letter Monday informing parents about the investigation’s conclusion, according to Fox 19.
“The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that out students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality,” Foys wrote. “In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening. Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”
The Diocese of Covington apologized prematurely to Phillips before full video footage surfaced. Foys said the Diocese was “bullied and pressured into making a statement,” but eventually apologized to the boys.
The Diocese of Covington did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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