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W. Va. Catholic diocese releases more accused priests ‘ names

FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2018, file photo, Patrick Morrisey speaks with journalists after a debate in Morgantown, W. Va. West Virginia’s Roman Catholic diocese has the names of the nine priests who have said credibly accused of sexual abuse of children. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in March 2019 filed a lawsuit accusing the diocese and former Bishop Michael Bransfield of knowingly employing paedophiles and not to conduct sufficient background checks on camp and school employees. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson, File)

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – West Virginia only Roman Catholic diocese has the names of the two priests, who it says have credibly accused of sexual abuse of children in the state.

The clergy are accused of committing the abuse while working at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. They both died.

One of them, the Rev. Raymond Waldruff, was previously accused of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s. Complaints of decades-old abuse against him in March in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, and in April in the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky.

Waldruff served in two churches in north-central West Virginia in the 1970s.

The other priest, the Rev. Andrew F. Lukas, was accused of abuse of a minor in the 1960s. The allegation was reported to the diocese in January.

Eight other priests added to the last list was claims against them in other regions or dioceses, but not in West Virginia. None are in active ministry.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register first reported on the list, which brings to 40 the number of accused priests or deacons who are employed in West Virginia.

The diocese placed on the list on its website last week. The original list was posted in November.

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spokesman Tim Bishop said in a statement Tuesday that the updated list indicates “the Diocese’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit in March accusing the diocese and former Bishop Michael Bransfield of knowingly employing paedophiles and not to conduct sufficient background checks on camp and school employees.

Morrisey said in a statement that the diocese quietly updated the original list, without immediately trumpeting the release.

“If the Diocese really wanted closure and healing for the victims, it would make good on the obligation to announce updates to its findings, so that the victim would feel to search for guidance and know that they are not alone,” Morrisey said.

Instead, “the Diocese appears fixated on the objective of minimizing this scandal with limited publicity about violations, and maximum publicity of the public relations campaign for the protection of the Church.”

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