West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a lawsuit against the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese, claiming they knowingly employed priests who sexually abused children.
According to the lawsuit, the Diocese and its bishops covered up “arguably criminal behavior of child sexual abuse.” The lawsuit also alleges that the Diocese didn’t perform adequate background checks on the priests they hired.
The lawsuit comes after former Bishop Michael J. Bransfield was banned from exercising any priestly or episcopal ministry within the Diocese. He is accused of sexually harassing adults and financial improprieties.
“The Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and former Bishop Michael J. Bransfield knowingly employed pedophiles and failed to conduct adequate background checks for those working at the Diocese’s schools and camps, all without disclosing the inherent danger to parents who purchased its services for their children,” a press release from Morrisey’s office states.
“Parents who pay and entrust the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and its schools to educate and care for their children deserve full transparency,” Morrisey said. “Our investigation reveals a serious need for the Diocese to enact policy changes that will better protect children, just as this lawsuit demonstrates our resolve to pursue every avenue to effectuate change as no one is above the law.”
The lawsuit asks for restitution and civil penalties for violations of state law.