West Virginia’s Bishop Resigns Amid Sexual Abuse Claims

Another bishop in the Catholic Church has immediately resigned under pressure after he was accused of sexually harassing adults. Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who was working throughout West Virginia, tendered his resignation to Pope Francis. According to the New York Times, the archbishop of Baltimore has stepped in to run the diocese. He has also opened a phone hotline for tips and started an investigation into Bransfield’s conduct.

Bransfield’s closest associates have already been accused of similar behavior. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July when allegations surfaced that he had molested an altar boy years ago and that he had adult seminary students sleep with him. While he denies all allegations, he has left the church.

Bransfield’s cousin, Monsignor Brian Bransfield, was part of delegation of bishops who met in Rome last week to discuss the sexual abuse crisis in the United States with the pope. While no solid steps emerged from the meeting, those involved said it was a lengthy discussion, and they were working to decide how to move forward.

This is not the first time Bransfield has been accused of misconduct. In 2012, he was accused by two people of closely working with a priest who abused minors. He was also accused of being aware of the abuse. One witness even went on to claim that Bransfield has sexually assaulted him. Bransfield denied the allegations, and he was never charged with a crime.

In a recent statement, the church suggested they would conduct a complete investigation into his behavior and work with others in the diocese until a new bishop could be appointed to the post.

Religious sexual abuse is always a horrifying event, and it seems an increasing number of individuals have found the courage to come forward in recent years to uncover this behavior in the Catholic church and in other churches. If you or someone you love has any questions about sexual abuse by a priest or minister, please contact the law office of Paul Mones.