Tag Archives: Wheeling Jesuit

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.



West Virginia bishop accused

Bishop Bransfield of West Virginia, reputed adversary of peremptorily ousted Jesuit president of Wheeling Jesuit University, is on a clerical-abuse hotseat:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Authorities have re-opened a 2007 fondling complaint against a priest who taught at a suburban Philadelphia high school and is now the Roman Catholic bishop of West Virginia.The complaint stems from Bishop Michael Bransfield’s days at Lansdale Catholic High School in the 1970s. The Philadelphia Archdiocese said it did not find the complaint credible at the time, and passed it on to Montgomery County authorities. But the archdiocese said last week that the complaint has been reopened.

The ousted Jesuit, Rev. Julio Giulietti, was fired after two years on the job after he and the bishop had disagreement about the fate of property that Giulietti wanted for expansion of WJU and the bishop wanted for Wheeling (Catholic) Hospital.  Giulietti has since headed Jesuit operations in Viet Nam, with health care a focus.

Soros v. bishops

Bishops never looked so good.

Wheeling Jesuit’s investigated vice president leaving

J. Davitt McAteer leaving Wheeling Jesuit U.  As the ChiSox TV announcer would say, “He gone.” 

McAteer is under federal investigation for how he handled millions in NASA grants.  In 2009 he was on the inside at WJU to the extent that he was appointed, we know not by whom, acting president when the Jesuit president was fired peremptorily and mysteriously by fellow Jesuits after two years in office. 

He will be on the outside as of June 30, when his contract will be not renewed, no reason given by the current president.  In the affidavit submitted by the investigating federal agent, McAteer is said to have admitted diversion of federal funds to cover unrelated WJU expenses and been told no problem by the WJU directors.

Very sticky business.

President Beyer and “James Fleming” (thus the news story, not saying he is Rev., S.J., who as University Vice President and Chief of Staff is the highest-ranking Jesuit at WJU) take over the relevant federal programs.

(Story broken and posted at Fox by AP 8 hrs before this by Wheeling Intelligencer, based on email sent to alumni, which email is to be only announcement, said WJU spokeswoman.)

Wheeling WV cathedral rector has to testify in Phila. abuse case

A Wheeling WV judge says an aide to the Wheeling bishop must appear in the criminal trial of two Philadelphia priests.

A West Virginia judge has ordered a Catholic church official formerly from Philadelphia to testify at the clergy sex-abuse trial now under way in the city.

The ruling late Thursday by Ohio County Circuit Judge Ronald E. Wilson ends a weeklong stalemate over testimony by Msgr. Kevin Michael Quirk.

Quirk served as a judge in the the 2008 church trial of one of the defendants, Rev. James J. Brennan, in which Philadelphia prosecutors say Brennan made “inculpatory” statements usable against him.

Brennan is charged with attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Prosecutors seek corroborating testimony from Quirk, who objected to his being required to testify. But the Wheeling judge ruled Quirk a material witness and said his testimony in Philadelphia “is essential in ascertaining the truth.” He ordered Quirk to appear in Philadelphia when requested between April 29 and May 1.

A decided wrinkle to the contest over requiring Quirk to testify is that in the Philadelphia trial a witness has implicated Quirk’s boss, Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling, accusing him of sexual abuse, which Bransfield has denied.

Public corruption targeted in West Virginia

West Virginia feds going after bad guys who steal from the government, including by “misuse of federal grant monies.”

This after raids on offices of Wheeling Jesuit University based on NASA investigator’s warrant accusing WJU vice president J. Davitt McAteer of misusing federal grant monies and the WJU board of collusion in the matter.

Wheeling WV Bishop accused, his cathedral rector balking at giving testimony


Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment

Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wheeling Intelligencer presents the Bishop Bransfield story, earlier part of a Phila. Inquirer story, in the starkest of terms:

PHILADELPHIA- A man testified Wednesday in a clergy abuse trial that a priest raped him in the 1970s at a beach house owned by the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield and that he was told that Bransfield, who currently serves as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, also sexually abused a boy.

The 48-year-old man also testified that he saw Bransfield with a car full of boys at a farm owned by his accused abuser, the Rev. Stanley Gana. The witness said that Gana told him Bransfield was having sex with the boy who was in the front seat.

Another man has testified that Bransfield had a lewd conversation with him.

The testimony came at the trial of the Rev. James Brennan, who’s accused in a 1996 child-sex assault.

Bransfield has not been charged, nor has he ever been charged, the Intelligencer reports. Nor accused, as far as a monitoring of his history on the Internet can tell us.

The Wheeling diocese is withholding comment until “the facts and issues surrounding this testimony are made fully known to the Diocese,” except to urge Catholics “to remember all victims of sexual abuse and to pray for them and their families” and to dismiss the trial itself as a “circus” and part of a smear campaign by prosecutors.

“They seem to want to bludgeon witnesses, smear individuals not on trial, anything to bolster their persecution of the church,” the diocese said in a separate statement. “The trial appears to be evolving into a circus with no rules and boundaries.”

Apparently at issue is the appearance at the trial as a material witness of a Wheeling priest, Monsignor Kevin Quirk, rector of the cathedral. A local judge is expected to rule tomorrow (4/20) whether Monsignor Quirk is required to testify.

Wheeling Jesuit: six-year conspiracy to misuse millions?

AP’s Wheeling Jesuit and Davitt McAteer story by Vicki Smith in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — One of the world’s foremost experts on mine safety — from gold mines in Chile to the coal mines of southern West Virginia — stands accused by a NASA fraud investigator of conspiring with the Catholic college where he now works to use millions of federal grant dollars for personal gain and the school’s benefit.

It’s in a sworn affidavit by a NASA Inspector General agent “used to obtain search warrants.”

The sworn affidavit by an agent who works out of the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Md., said those expenses range from McAteer’s salary — which surged from $130,300 in 2006 to $230,659 by 2008 — to cellphones, computers, technical support and salaries for other staff, including a secretary in McAteer’s Shepherdstown [WV] private law office.

McAteer’s reports on mine disasters at the governor’s request have been scrutinized.

The reports he authored are now among the evidence that federal investigators are studying. Among the search warrant requests were “any and all documents” relating to work done on those three reports, including financial documents, travel expense, time cards and interview notes.

There were five NASA grants, regarding which:

[T]he agent found the duties and salaries of individuals “did not, in any way, benefit the substantive work being done on the federal award projects.”

“The motive for (McAteer’s) actions is evidenced by the substantial sum of money (Wheeling Jesuit) improperly received,” the agent concluded.

Wheeling Jesuit in jeopardy:

The university may have been complicit in five possible federal crimes: theft of federal funds; major fraud; conspiracy; false claims; and wire fraud, the document said.

There were warnings:

At least twice, the affidavit said, witnesses interviewed for the investigation warned both McAteer and the school that they were breaking the law. A consulting firm hired in 2008 also made similar warnings, the document said.

“We will slowly work on making this right, but we can’t afford to do it at this time,” McAteer is said to have told top university officials in response to the consulting firm’s conclusion, according to the affidavit.

The officials concurred:

Documents the agent obtained indicate the school’s board of directors deliberately circumvented federal spending rules “for the purpose of sustaining . . . its general, non-federal program educational areas.”

The money flowed:

Between fiscal years 2000 and 2009, NASA gave Wheeling Jesuit more than $116 million, more than $65 million of that after McAteer took over the school’s Sponsored Programs Office in 2005.

A whistle-blower claimed she suffered retaliation:

A finance manager in that office told the investigator that McAteer created the Combined Cost Management Service Center when he took over. Merging the billing of the two centers allowed him “to control and consolidate all the expenses, regardless of whether such expenses were related to the federal awards.”

This points to Catherine Smith, who sued the university in January 2010 saying she lost her job “after questioning [as finance manager for the school’s sponsored programs] the way the school billed administrative expenses for government grants,” as reported by the Charleston State-Journal in a story posted Jan. 14, 2010 and reposted as “updated” Feb. 27, 2012.

Wheeling Jesuit and its vice president investigated by feds

Wheeling Jesuit University's Seal

Wheeling Jesuit University's Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holy mackerel!  The guy who stood in for the peremptorily fired Jesuit president of Wheeling Jesuit U. in W. Va. in 2009, very big man on campus whose regular job there was to run or oversee federally funded programs involving millions of tax dollars, is being investigated by the federal government.

A federal investigation into J. Davitt McAteer and Wheeling Jesuit University appears to center on how the university handled federal funds between 2005 and 2011 — with an emphasis on how it billed expenses under grant programs or cooperative agreements, court documents indicate.

Documents by those seeking to unseal the warrants

show that NASA, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and other agencies seized documents from McAteer’s offices in Wheeling and Shepherdstown on Feb. 16. McAteer, an attorney and former head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, runs WJU’s Office of Sponsored Programs.

Investigators seized, copied and then returned records of expenses billed to federal programs and other records indicating how Wheeling Jesuit handled certain kinds of expenses through its Combined Cost Management Service Center.

Others are to be grilled and perhaps targeted:

The motions also say investigators are looking at current and former employees of Wheeling Jesuit, and some are expected to appear before a grand jury.

“We continue to cooperate with federal investigators,” WJU spokeswoman Michelle Rejonis said. “As information becomes available to us, we will gather information and work from there.”

The argument to unseal the warrants pits government wanting to marshal all relevant data before showing its hand (so far getting its way) vs. McAteer et al. protesting secrecy and its deleterious effects on his and the university’s reputation and ongoing performance by the funded university operations.

The fired Jesuit, Rev. Julio Giulietti, had finished two years at the Wheeling Jesuit helm.  His firing was followed by widespread alumni protests and coverage in two national publications , all of which was reported and discussed in this blog.  A search in this blog can uncover these reports and discussions.  Giulietti went on to work in Viet Nam as representative of Loyola University-Chicago in developing programs of nurse and physician education.

Gleeson SJ in Philadelphia: inquiring student minds at work

Are we Catholics past the point of settling with accusers to avoid bad publicity and/or losing in court in sexual abuse and/or harassment matters? Rev. Thomas Gleeson SJ, outed three weeks ago in Philadelphia, could have had his day in court 11 years ago, but Jesuits fought the very idea and settled with the accuser, a former Jesuit scholastic. Case closed, end of story, they thought or hoped. Hardly.

As a campus chaplain at St. Joseph’s U., he had been placed in a position too public to be ignored by The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and there he was again, in the very limelight he’d wanted to avoid by the settlement. And people in charge of his new place of employment tried once again to slide under publicity radar, and once again failed. (His crucial role in ousting a fellow Jesuit from the Wheeling Jesuit U. presidency — under suspicious circumstances partly of Gleeson’s own making — was a bad move by someone seeking anonymity.)

This time, Phila. Daily News coverage drove the St. Joe’s president, Rev. Timothy Lannon, S.J., to issue a university-wide memo “as students were finishing midterms and packing up for spring break,” as the student newspaper, The Hawk, noted this week. The memo was terse, even perfunctory: Gleeson had been accused but had been vetted by the Jesuits — “cleared for assignment,” a spokeswoman told the News.

Missing from the memo was “information concerning Gleeson’s history and subsequent settlement,” The Hawk’s editors wrote. Indeed, “the poorly worded statement created more questions and concerns than conclusions, and the university has yet to reveal how it plans to move forward with Gleeson’s case in the future,” they wrote in a carefully constructed editorial.

They added:

Given the enormous accusations currently levied against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, it is surprising that Saint Joseph’s University officials did not think more carefully before responding in a seemingly distant and ineffective way.
The university could have opened the door for conversation about the circumstances and reasoning behind Gleeson’s hire, providing a great opportunity for community discussion on issues that are dominating Philadelphia’s headlines. Instead, St. Joe’s offered the same one-way declaration that has plagued the Catholic Church for decades.

Instead, the university offered “lackluster explanations” that did not inspire confidence. “When the university doesn’t defend their employees it makes it hard for students to get behind them with support,” the editorial noted.

That’s a fair description of how the Gleeson business has been handled, not only in Philadelphia but before that in West Virginia and before that in California. (It’s also how much or most priest abuse and/or harassment has been treated, for that matter.)

At what point, we must ask, does Jesuit loyalty to their own (as bishops’ to their priests) give way to the sort of “open communication” that has been respectfully requested by St. Joseph’s U. student editors?

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