W. Virginia bishops says testimony debunks abuse allegation
Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston.
Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston.

.- Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston says accusations of abuse against him have been disproved, with the alleged victim and another witness coming forward to attest to his innocence.

“I am pleased to be able to say that this allegation has been put to rest,” Bishop Bransfield wrote in a July 23 letter, addressing the “false hearsay statements” made against him during the recent trial of Monsignor William Lynn and Father James Brennan.

“Ron Rock, the high school student whom I had allegedly victimized – now a prominent Philadelphia businessman – has now publicly confirmed that this allegation is completely false,” Bishop Bransfield wrote.

“Timothy Love was also with us on that occasion, and he has also confirmed the completely innocent and proper nature of my friendship with them.”

The West Virginia bishop said he was “very grateful to these two Catholic men” for coming forward to defend him against allegations raised during the Philadelphia trial. Their statements, he said, “provide tangible proof that the hearsay allegation made at the trial is false.”

“I am very fortunate that they have come forward 35 years later to defend me,” Bishop Bransfield wrote, noting the harm the accusations had inflicted on his family members and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

During the recently-concluded trial in Philadelphia, it was claimed that Bishop Bransfield engaged in improper conduct with a student at a farm outside Philadelphia in the 1970s, during his years as a priest.

The charge was made by a prosecution witness who did not claim to have direct knowledge of the alleged abuse by the future bishop. Rather, the witness said the information was told to him by another priest, Father Stanley Gana, whom he said was sexually abusing him at the time.

But Ron Rock, the man Bishop Bransfield was said to have abused, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that nothing inappropriate took place between himself and the future bishop.

“I've talked to my buddies who were with me that weekend,” Rock told the paper, in comments published July 23. The future Bishop Bransfield, he said, “was a guy's guy. We would joke about girls. There was no inappropriate anything.”

Rock told the Inquirer that Bishop Bransfield, who presided at his marriage and the baptism of his children, was “a great family friend.”

Timothy Love, who was said to have been present during the time of the alleged abuse, confirmed to the paper that the priest had done nothing inappropriate.

During the recent court testimony in Philadelphia, a different accusation surfaced against Bishop Bransfield, which he also maintains is false. That allegation of improper conduct, made by a former Lansdale Catholic High School student, was already investigated and dismissed after surfacing in 2007.

The suspicion involving the student was reported to the Distinct Attorney, who brought no charges against Bishop Bransfield. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also conducted a full investigation, including interviews of the bishop, the accuser, and students who attended the school at the time.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, I was formally notified that the allegation had not been substantiated and that steps were to be taken to restore my good reputation.  I was very thankful to have this matter resolved – or so I thought – in 2008.”

With this previously-dismissed accusation drawing new attention, the Wheeling-Charleston bishop said he could “only repeat what I have stated before publicly: I have never abused anyone.”

In an earlier statement about the allegations raised in the Philadelphia trial, Bishop Bransfield said he has “openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese,” and had “demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, where I now live and serve.”

Tags: Abuse Allegations

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees

Liturgical Calendar

July 25, 2014

Saint James, Apostle

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 20:20-28


Daily Readings

First Reading:: 2 Cor 4: 7-15
Gospel:: Mt 20: 20-28

Saint of the Day

St. James »


Homily of the Day

Mt 20:20-28


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: