WV - Victims blast Wheeling bishop
- Victims blast WV bishop
- They want him to address abuse allegations
- Philly law enforcement is investigating him
- Prelate should hold public Q&A session, SNAP says
- Group also wants pedophile priests listed on church websites
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will urge West Virginia’s Catholic bishop to
--hold a public “question and answer session” to address the child sex abuse allegations levied against him six months ago, and
--post on his diocesan website the names, photos and whereabouts of every predator priest who lived or worked in the state.
They will also prod anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered clergy crimes in West Virginia – in any denomination - to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
TODAY, Wednesday, October 9, at 11:30 a.m.
Outside the Diocese of Wheeling headquarters (“chancery office”) at 1300 Byron St (corner of 13th) in Wheeling, WV
Two to three members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a St. Louis man who is the organizations long-time director
It’s been six months since West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield was accused of child sex abuse during a landmark clergy sex abuse case in Philadelphia (where he was a priest before his promotion to West Virginia).
In April, Bransfield was named as an alleged abuser during the trial of Msgr. William Lynn and Fr. James Brennan by a man who had taken the witness stand to testify about another child molesting Philly cleric (Fr. Stanley Gana). Another man testified that Bransfield had a lewd conversation with him. Both men were testifying about abuse by Stanley Gana. And the prosecutor also said that Bransfield had been accused, in a separate instance, of fondling a minor in 1970s.
Philly law enforcement officials have opened an investigation into the allegations.
Following the accusations, Bransfield denied them on the Wheeling Diocese website, but he refuses (as best SNAP can tell) to really address the accusations with the public, the press or his own parishioners.
The group is particularly disappointed with Bransfield’s silence since a decade ago, America’s bishops pledged to be “open and transparent” in clergy child sex cases.
SNAP is urging Bishop Bransfield to hold a public Q&A session to respond to parishioners and concerned citizens about his role in Fr. Gana’s abuses and the abuse and cover up crisis in the church in general.
“It’s been six months since he was accused, and thus far all he’s done is to post a letter on his website,” said David Clohessy, SNAP Director. “We think that serious accusations such as these demand a more serious – and thorough - response.”
Months ago, SNAP asked him to step down temporarily until the investigation has been completed.
“For the past decade, church officials have repeatedly claimed that they fully cooperate with law enforcement, and we want Bishop Bransfield to demonstrate his commitment to this claim,” Clohessy said.
SNAP is also calling on Bransfield to post the names of all credibly accused priests within his diocese on his website, in his diocesan newspaper, and in parish bulletins. SNAP says that is “one of the simplest, quickest and cheapest ways to keep kids safe.”
Roughly 30 US bishops have posted the names of their predators priests, usually after considerable public pressure.
In 2002, Tucson and Baltimore became the first US dioceses to disclose predators’ names. More recently, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has created a database on its website which includes priests with credible child sex abuse accusations against them. (A full list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names is available here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm)
According to an independent, Boston-based research group called BishopAccountability.org, there are six publicly accused West Virginia priests.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.