Diocese Adds More Names to Priests List

By Joselyn King
May 26, 2019

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has added nine additional names to the list of priests associated with the diocese accused in sexual abuse incidents since the1950s, bringing the total number to 40.

The diocese released its original list in November, and updated it this week following a visit to Wheeling by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey called for more cooperation and transparency from the Diocese as investigations continue into sexual abuse claims made against diocese priests — including former bishop Michael Bransfield.

Phone messages left with the diocese Friday afternoon were not immediately returned.

“We are glad that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has updated their list of priests publicly accused of abuse,” said Judy Jones, midwest regional leader for SNAP — The Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests. “We are disappointed, however, that they did so without notifying the public.

“The entire point of these lists is to keep parishioners and the public informed. When people are aware that those listed have abused others, they know to look within their own communities for survivors who might be struggling in silence. And when survivors see the name of the person that abused them listed, it often helps them realize that they are not alone and encourages them to come forward and get help.”

She called for Catholic church officials in Wheeling-Charleston to publicly announce the changes they have made to their list, and explain why these nine names have been added.

The lists now includes the names of 20 priests accused of sexual abuse while serving in the diocese, and another 20 who were credibly accused while serving elsewhere.

Priests Accused of Incidents While With Diocese

The one priest added to the list of those accused of an incident while with the diocese has ties to the Wheeling area.

Rev. Andrew F. Lukas is listed as having served at St. John Church in Benwood from November of 1958 until June of 1959, and he is accused of abuse of a minor while there. The allegation was reported to the diocese in January after the original list of names was released, according to information provided by the diocese.

Also on the first list are other priests accused of acts occurring while they were in the Northern Panhandle:

– Rev. Carl E. Bauer, the Seminary House of Studies in Wheeling from June 1969- July 1974, and Our Lady of Peace in Wheeling from July 1974- September 1985.

– Rev. Lawrence D. Brown, St. Paul Church in Weirton from May 1970- December 1971, and St. Joseph Cathedral from December 1971-June 1977.

– Rev. James Joseph Chetock, St. Joseph the Worker Church in Weirton from January 1995-June 1997.

– Rev. Patrick Condron, St. Francis Xavier Church from July 1976-October 1977; Bethany College Chaplain from June 1987-June 1992; West Liberty State College Chaplain, June 1988 -June 1992; St. Alphonsus Church in Wheeling, June 1994-January 1995, and again from September 1997 -February 1998; and Wheeling Catholic Elementary School, from September 1998 – November, 2001.

– Rev. Victor Frobas, Corpus Christi Church from June 1966-May 1967; St. Joseph Cathedral from June 1968-November 1970; chaplain with the Catholic Committee on Scouting in Wheeling, 1969; St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellsburg, November 1970-February 1972; Diocesan Director of Scouting, 1971: chaplain at Mount St. Joseph, Wheeling, October 1976- October 1977; St. Francis Xavier Church, October 1977-February 1978; St. Paul Church in Weirton, 1980-July 1982; and at the chancery in Wheeling, July 1982- October 1982.

– Rev. Patrick MacSweeney, St. Anthony Church in Follansbee, March 1955.

– Rev. Felix Owino, Wheeling Jesuit University, 2008-2010; and St. Paul Parish in Weirton.

– Rev. Richard Schaefer, Wheeling Hospital chaplain, August 1966-May 1967; St. Lawrence Church in Middlebourne, July 1981-April 1986; and Holy Rosary Church in Sistersville, September 1984-April 1986.

– Rev. Paul J. Schwarten, St. Francis Xavier, February 1967- April 1969; and Holy Rosary, Sistersville, April 1969- July 1981.

– Rev. Stanley Tuchalski — St. Paul Church, Weirton, June 1990- June 1993.

Priests Serving Locally, But Accused Elsewhere

The names of eight priests having served with the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese — but credibly accused of sexual abuse elsewhere — have now been added to the diocese’s lists. Three of the eight served local churches and schools.

Rev. Francis Bourbon is accused of a abusing a minor in Virginia. He served Wheeling Jesuit University from 1992-1993; St. Paul Church in Weirton, 1993-1994; and Wheeling Jesuit University again from 1996-2003.

Rev. Robert Cullen is accused of abuse in Maryland. He was assigned to Wheeling Central Catholic High School from 1982-1983, and Wheeling-Jesuit College from 1983-1990.

Rev. James Hopkins had a report of abuse filed against him while with the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He served St. Joseph Cathedral from September 1949-June 1950; and St. Francis Xavier Church in Moundsville, June 1950- August 1961.

Other priests who served locally , but were accused of abuse elsewhere include the following:

– Rev. Louis Bonacci, Wheeling Jesuit University, June 1999 through 2003.

– Rev. Charles Demblowski, St. Lawrence Church, Middlebourne, 1985-1996.

– Rev. Gerard Guli, Holy Rosary in Sistersville, June 1965-August 1966.

– Rev. Raymond Lukac, St. Joseph Cathedral, August 1966-January 1967.

Morrisey has filed a civil suit against the diocese, which alleges the diocese and its bishops had knowledge of child sexual abuse claims against those working for the church but failed to act on them. His amended complaint filed this week alleges the diocese often failed to conduct background checks on employees and report abuse.

Bransfield also is the subject of a sexual abuse complaint filed in Ohio County Circuit Court in March by his former secretary.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.