Wheeling, W.Va., Mar 28, 2019 / 16:16 pm America/Denver (CNA).
A new lawsuit against the former bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, claims that the prelate sexually assaulted seminarians, a claim that he has denied.
A former seminarian filed the lawsuit against Bishop Michael Bransfield last week. The plaintiff, who is identified as J.E., said the bishop had harassed him for years prior to a case of sexual assault.
“Bishop Bransfield was a sexual predator with a lustful disposition,” states the lawsuit, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “After being placed in a position of trust by [the Church, he] sexually abused, molested, fondled and assaulted J.E. and other adolescent and ‘adult’ males.”
J.E. said Bransfield would often become drunk from orange liqueur and make sexual advances toward seminarians. He said the bishop, after returning home intoxicated one night, had exposed himself and groped J.E. while the two men were on a church trip in 2014.
The plaintiff says he had been the bishop’s altar server and personal secretary. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the lawsuit seeks compensation for psychological injuries and loss of employment, claiming the diocese, the U.S. bishops’ conference, and other unnamed church leaders were also responsible for the damages.