Findings Now go to the Holy See for Final Judgement
WHEELING—On September 13, 2018, the Holy See announced the retirement of Michael J. Bransfield as Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia and appointed Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori as Apostolic Administrator of Wheeling-Charleston, with a mandate to conduct a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults and financial improprieties by Bishop Bransfield.
The preliminary investigation, which took place over five months, was conducted by Archbishop Lori with the assistance of a team of five lay experts. The investigative team examined multiple allegations of sexual harassment of adults and financial improprieties. It involved interviews with more than 40 individuals, including Bishop Bransfield. The investigation has now been completed and will be sent to the Holy See for final judgment.
At the request of those who provided testimony, victims will not be identified, nor will details of their personal accounts be disclosed.
“Pending the assessment of the findings of the Holy See, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, I have directed that Bishop Bransfield is not authorized to exercise any priestly or episcopal ministry within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston,” Archbishop Lori said. “I have further directed the Diocese to implement a third-party reporting system for any sexual or financial impropriety on the part of its bishop, clergy, religious and lay employees and volunteers.”
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is committed to providing counseling to any who may have been harmed, including clergy, religious and lay personnel. They are urged by the Diocese to contact the Safe Environment Office at (833) 230-5656.
“I apologize to any who have suffered harm and express my gratitude to the five men and women who conducted the investigation, as well as to those who participated in this difficult process,” the Archbishop said. “It is my privilege to serve the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as the journey toward healing begins anew and as we anticipate the appointment of a new bishop.”