Civil Suit Filed against Former Bishop Bransfield, Alleging Sexual Abuse
By Anthony Conn
March 26, 2019
A lawsuit has been filed against former Wheeling-Charleston Diocese Bishop Michael Bransfield, accusing him of exposing himself and inappropriately touching a young boy several times during his time as a bishop in the Diocese.
The civil suit was filed with the Ohio County Circuit Court on March 22.
The lawsuit's plaintiff was a resident of St. Clairsville during the time period in question.
The complaint contains detailed accounts of Bransfield initiating unwanted sexual contact with a young male who was under his care.
It also alleges that Bransfield was known to be a heavy drinker who consumed one-half to one whole bottle of 80-proof liquor nightly and then engaged in grossly inappropriate behavior, including (but not limited to) making sexually-aggressive gestures, hugging, kissing, and fondling seminarians. According to the complaint, the Diocese covered the cost of the alcohol Bransfield consumed, which amounted to at least $20 per bottle.
The plaintiff says the Diocese was aware of an incident in 2007, as well as other incidents involving inappropriate behavior with altar boys, but did not investigate the claims, nor take action against Bransfield as a result of the claims.
The plaintiff also says that he dropped out of seminary as a result of the alleged abuse.
Earlier in March, Bransfield was blocked from any kind of ministry in the Diocese after allegations of sexual harassment of adults and financial impropriety emerged.
NEWS9 reached out to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston about the suit and its claims. Diocese officials stated that they have no comment on matters under litigation, but will answer in court.