EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSACCUSATIONS AGAINST BISHOP
from Eyewitness News Online
Catholics Support Bishop Despite Accusations
Reported by: Kristin Keeling
Videographer: Brad Rice
Web Producer: Mamie Buoy
Reported: Apr. 19, 2012 5:47 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 20, 2012 8:03 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Startling accusations have surfaced against the leader of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese in West Virginia.
Bishop Michael Bransfield's name recently surfaced during testimony at a clergy-abuse trial in Philadelphia. The testimony came at the trial of Reverend James Brennan. The witness testified he was sexually abused by Brennan in a home owned by Bransfield and says Brennan told him that Bishop Bransfield sexually abused a boy.
The accusation is upsetting to local Catholics. "You don't like to think that there's mean people out there but there is a lot and it seems for quite some time now that they've been very happy to take down the Catholics," said Jacquie Portillo of Teays Valley.
Bishop Bransfield is defending himself saying:
"I have been deeply saddened by the priest child abuse scandal that has been connected to a handful of my former colleagues and friends from St. Charles Seminary. Over the years, I have felt devastation for both the victims and the church as I learned about the terrible actions they took with innocent victims.
To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking. As a native of Roxboro, I consider Philadelphia my home. I have openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese, and have demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, where I now live and serve.
I have never sexually abused anyone.
I understand that I am a public figure and therefore subject to public criticism. The nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released however go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety. This case has gone on for seven years or more and simple facts like whether I own, or owned, a farm in the Scranton area were easily determinable. Contrary to the statements, I do not own, and never owned a farm in the Scranton area, upstate New York, or anywhere else for that matter.
The statement that a former seminarian of mine, Stanley Gana, abused a minor at a home which I owned on the shore and at which I permitted numerous friends and priests to use is misleading. What did not get released was additional information available to the Prosecutor that I was not aware of the incident and was not present at the house at the time. Gana has confirmed those facts in prior reports.
I was in Rome attending meetings at the Vatican when this false story about me was publicly released by the media without my knowledge or input. To say I was shocked and saddened would be an understatement.
I ask you to pray for me and the parishioners of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. At the same time, please join me in prayer for all those who have been affected by sexual abuse."
Monsignor Sadie at Sacred Heart in Charleston supports the Bishop saying the allegations are ludicrous. "It's completely hearsay. Once someone said something that someone else heard, but there's no credible accusation against Bishop Bransfield," explained Monsignor Sadie. "You can't rectify the situation. So I do feel sorry for the priests who have been falsely accused. And in this case, Bishop Bransfield."
Bransfield has been in charge of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese since 2005.
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