FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2018, file photo, Patrick Morrisey speaks with journalists after a debate in Morgantown, W. Va. Morrisey announced an amended lawsuit Tuesday, 21 May 2019, against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and the former Bishop Michael Bransfield. The original lawsuit was filed in March. The latest version claims the diocese kept secret a 2006 report about allegations of sexual abuse involving a teacher in Charleston, W. Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson, File)
CHARLESTON, W. Va. – West Virginia’s Roman Catholic diocese failed, public ten-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of a student by a Catholic school teacher, to the position of the attorney-general, said on Tuesday.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced an amended lawsuit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and the former Bishop Michael Bransfield.
A diocese spokesman did not immediately comment on the complaint. It accuses the diocese of keeping a secret report from 2006 about the allegations of sexual abuse involving a teacher in Kanawha County.
Morrisey, according to an internal investigation of the alleged the teacher used alcohol and prescription drugs to get a teenage student confidence for multiple cases of abuse has taken place.
As the original suit, the amended complaint cited that the state consumer credit and Protection Act, accusing the diocese of “unfair competition” more than other schools when it advertised for prospective students to join the schools and the camp, without the disclosure of the employment of the accused priests.
The amended complaint alleges Bransfield was personally advised that more than 20 background checks were not done in a Catholic elementary school in Charleston between 2007 and 2008.
Morrisey the original lawsuit filed in March accused of the diocese and the Bransfield of a cover-up, adding the diocese is not the background checks on the admitted abusers, and priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of children.
Lawyers of the diocese and the Bransfield filed a motion in the last month before the dismissal of the lawsuit.
On Tuesday, the diocese said in a statement that some of the allegations in the amended lawsuit were not accurately described.
“In the strongest terms, we reject the contention that the initial background checks were not conducted at school, the staff, as the amended complaint states,” the diocese said.
In a decades-old instance cited in the original lawsuit, Rev. Victor Frobas, who was forced out of the Philadelphia seminary system because of a credible accusation of sexual abuse, was the director of a summer youth camp owned by the diocese. Frobas was then accused of the sexual abuse of children on that post, and, after a leave, was later assigned to work as a chaplain at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, the lawsuit said.
Frobas was convicted in 1988 of molesting two boys at a parish in a suburb of St. Louis. He worked for more than two years in prison and died in 1993.
In November, the West Virginia diocese released the names of 18 priests or deacons, who it said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of children since 1950, including 11 who had already died. None of the others are in active ministry.
Bransfield resignation last year and the Vatican appointed Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to take over the State-Charleston diocese. Bransfield was involved in a 2012 case against Philadelphia priests accused of sexual abuse, but he denied abusing anyone.
The catholic Church officials in March imposed ministerial restrictions on the Bransfield in anticipation of the Holy see’s final assessment on the investigation of the claims in West Virginia.
“There are many, many wonderful people in the church. I know that many of them. I am a practicing Catholic,” Morrisey said at a news conference in Wheeling. “And I can tell you that a lot of the people are deeply shocked by the activities and the cover-up here. The most important that everyone can do now is to come clean, to be transparent, acknowledge the mistakes and move forward.”