The Bishop of Covington on Friday apologized to parents of Covington Catholic High School for being “bullied” into issuing a “premature statement” regarding an incident involving some of its students and a Native American activist during last Friday’s March for Life event in Washington, D.C.
“Within hours we were being pressured from all sides to make a statement regarding a video clip which purportedly showed students from Covington Catholic High School being disrespectful to Native American Elder Nathan Phillips,” Bishop Roger J. Foys wrote in a letter.
— Tanya O'Rourke (@TanyaORourke) January 25, 2019
“Based on what the video clip showed we condemned the actions of students who engaged in the alleged disrespect and promised to investigate the matter,” he continued. “Once these went viral some of the very same people who put tremendous pressure on us to condemn the actions of the students now wanted a retraction from anyone who had previously issued a statement critical of them. All this was based again on a video.”
In a January 19th statement, the bishop criticized Covington Catholic students and signaled out Nicholas Sandmann for smirking while standing in close proximity to Native American activist Nathan Phillips as he sang and drummed near the Lincoln Memorial. “This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” the initial statement read.
At first, Sandman was accused of mocking Philips, smirking at him, and blocking him from leaving the area where the two stood face-to-face — however — additional footage proves it was the activist who approached the student first and was in no way prevented from leaving at any time.
“We should not have allowed ourselves to be bullied and pressured into making a statement prematurely, and we take full responsibility for it,” wrote Foys. “I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family as well as to all CovCath families who have felt abandoned during this ordeal. Nicholas unfortunately has become the face of these allegations based on video clips.”
The apology came after Sandmann’s family hired lawyer L. Lin Wood, who according to the Washington Post, “often [seeks] eye-popping damages for those he believes have been libeled or slandered in the press.”
Sandmann family attorney Todd McMurtry told reporters on Thursday that Wood is “committed to bringing justice to 16-year-old Nick Sandmann and his family.”
The Atlanta-based lawyer has represented former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, Richard Jewell, who was erroneously linked to the 1996 Olympic bombing, and the family of JonBenet Ramsey,