On January 22, Greater Cincinnati Investigation was retained on behalf of the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School to investigate the incident at the Lincoln Memorial after the March for Life. The GCI team devoted more than 240 man-hours to the investigation. They interviewed 43 students, nine faculty chaperones and four parent chaperones. They also reviewed approximately fifty hours of internet activity and video.
The team made multiple attempts to contact Nathan Phillips and his daughter by email, telephone and in person. Their attempts were not answered.
On February 11 the team concluded its investigation. Among the findings:
- There is no evidence the students chanted “Build the Wall.”
- Mr. Phillips approached the students. Most of them thought he was joining in the cheers they had started to drown out the racist and offensive shouts of the Black Hebrew Israelites. The students report they did not feel threatened by his presence, but many were confused.
- There is no evidence of racist statements by the students to Mr. Phillips. Some students performed a “tomahawk chop” to the beat of his drumming and joined in his chant.
- Students and chaperones report that few students were wearing “MAGA” hats when they left Covington Catholic. Most students purchased the hats in Washington, DC.
- One video showed an individual commenting that “it’s not rape if you enjoy it.” The investigation finds this individual is not a student at Covington Catholic.
The full report is available here.
Please see below for a letter from Bishop Roger Foys of the Diocese of Covington, issued in response to the investigation’s findings.
A message from Bishop Foys
11 February 2019
My dear Covington Catholic High School Parents,
I am pleased to inform you that my hope and expectation expressed in my letter to you of 25 January that the results of our inquiry into the events of 18 January at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. would “exonerate our students so that they can move forward with their lives” has been realized. Our inquiry, conducted by a third party firm that has no connection with Covington Catholic High School or the Diocese of Covington, has demonstrated that our students did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.
In these past several weeks since the original video went viral two well-worn and oft-used adages have come to mind: Seeing is believing and Perception is reality. The immediate world-wide 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.
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. These students had come to Washington, D.C. to support life. They marched peacefully with hundreds of thousands of others – young and old and in-between – to further the cause of life. These young high school students could never have expected what they experienced on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while waiting for the busses to take them home. Their stance there was surely a pro-life stance. I commend them.
I thank our students and their parents for their patience while the inquiry we ordered was completed. Thefinal investigative report is available at www.covdio.org. Once again I affirm my complete trust and confidence in our Principal of Covington Catholic, Mr. Robert Rowe. Under his guidance these past 11 years great strides have been made at CovCath in every area from curriculum to Catholic identity. He joins me in the sentiments expressed in this letter. I also affirm my confidence in our CovCath students. As for the future, we trust in God and in the spirit of CovCath, a spirit that will not die!
Yours devotedly in the Lord,
Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, D.D.
Bishop of Covington