Bishop Bransfield was exonerated unusually

Bishop Michael Bransfield of West Virginia has denied accusation of abuse of a high school boy in Pennsylvania in the 1970s, when he was a young priest teaching at a Catholic high school, saying he was cleared after a “full investigation” by Philadelphia archdiocesan authorities.

But the investigation, in 2008, was short-circuited by the then archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Phildelphia Inquirer reports:

In a break from practice, the accusation against Bransfield bypassed the archdiocese’s civilian review board, according to a source briefed on the case but not authorized to publicly discuss it. The board was formed to conduct independent examinations of abuse claims and assesses priests’ suitablility for ministry.

Instead, Rigali acted after reviewing the reports of an investigator who interviewed Bransfield, his accuser and others.

After this four-month process, he pronounced Bransfield not guilty of the accusation.

And though the archdiocese routinely publicly identifies and suspends priests as it reviews allegations against them, four years passed before the complaint against Bransfield came to light, and then only in passing at the landmark clergy-sex abuse trial [just completed in Philadelphia].

The Philadelphia archdiocese has reopened the case, reporting it to local authorities, who will be investigating the matter further, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said, adding that it was “unlikely” her office would charge Bransfield over the allegations.

 

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Comments

  • snapjudy  On 07/23/2012 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you Risa Vetri Ferman for doing a thorough investigation about Bransfield.

    We urge anyone who has knowledge or may have been harmed by Bransfield to contact Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who is investigating this case. Her contact info is here (ph: 610-278-3090) .
    Or contact the police, whether it be in the Philly Archdiocese or the Wheeling-Charleston diocese or the DC Archdiocese.
    Bransfield’s assignment record — http://www.bishopaccountability.org/assign/Bransfield_Michael_J.htm

    Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511, snapjudy@gmail.com
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”

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