Students "did not instigate" Lincoln Memorial incident, Kentucky bishop says

/ CBS/AP

Viral video fallout gets complicated

A Kentucky diocese investigation has determined that Catholic school boys didn't instigate a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial that went viral on social media. Covington Bishop Roger Foys initially condemned the students' behavior after a video showed one teenager face-to-face with a Native American man. Days later, Foys apologized for "making a statement prematurely."

In a letter to Covington Catholic High School parents this week that was posted online by CBS affiliate WKRC, Foys said students at the school "did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial."

"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 January 18 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. would exonerate our students so that they can move forward with their lives' has been realized," he said.

The students were in Washington for an anti-abortion rally last month when they encountered a group of black street preachers who were shouting insults at both them and a group of Native Americans. The bishop now says the students "were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening."

Both the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, and the Covington student shown in the video have said they were attempting to defuse the situation.

First published on February 13, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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