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West Virginia to Diocese: You 'Knowingly Employed Pedophiles'

State files suit against diocese, bishop
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2019 1:29 PM CDT
This Feb. 21, 2005, file photo, shows incoming bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, W.Va, Michael Bransfield in his new office, in Wheeling, W.Va.   (AP Photo/Dale Sparks, File)

(Newser) – Parents entrusted their children to West Virginia's Wheeling-Charleston Diocese schools and camps—not knowing who their children were potentially being exposed to. The West Virginia attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the diocese accusing it of not conducting adequate background checks for its employees, including priests, and not warning parents of the danger, WTRF reports. What it boils down to: The diocese "knowingly employed pedophiles," according to the suit. The suit claims even admitted child molesters were put in posts that routinely brought them into contact with children, Philly.com reports. The diocese's former bishop, Michael Bransfield, is named in the suit and accused of harboring the accused and admitted abusers within the diocese; Bransfield himself has been accused of sexually harassing adults, and was suspended from all priestly ministries last week when a separate church-led investigation ended.

Among other things, the lawsuit says that the diocese ordained Victor Forbas as a priest even though it knew there was a credible sex abuse accusation against him; he ended up the director of one of the diocese's camps. Accusations were made against him at that camp, the suit says, but after receiving treatment he worked at Wheeling Central Catholic High School. He later pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children in Missouri and went to prison before dying in 1993. "This morning, I filed a civil action against the Wheeling/Charleston Diocese and former Bishop Bransfield for deceiving consumers and claiming their schools were safe when they were employing credibly accused pedophiles," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey tweeted. He added in a statement, "Parents who pay and entrust the ... diocese and its schools to educate and care for their children deserve full transparency." (Read more Catholic Church stories.)

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