West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Michael Bransfield, alleging they “knowingly employed pedophiles” and didn’t conduct adequate background checks for anyone working at schools and camps for the Diocese.
The suit also alleges that they didn’t disclose the danger to parents who utilized their services for their children. Morrisey says that these actions lacked transparency and went against the Diocese’s advertised mission of a safe learning environment.
“Parents who pay and entrust the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and its schools to educate and care for their children deserve full transparency,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Our investigation reveals a serious need for the Diocese to enact policy changes that will better protect children, just as this lawsuit demonstrates our resolve to pursue every avenue to effectuate change as no one is above the law.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit stems from an investigation that began in September of 2018.
One of the allegations states that the Diocese ordained Victor Frobas as a priest in West Virginia, despite knowledge of a credible sex abuse accusation in Philadephia. Forbas was later named director at Camp Tygart (now known as Camp Bosco). Further accusations at Camp Tygart led to his receiving of treatment but was then employed at Wheeling Central Catholic High School.
Frobas eventually pled guilty to sexually abusing children in Missouri, went to prison and died in 1993.
“Today is a sad day, but the Attorney General still believes there are so many priests and deacons in the Catholic church — who are good men — who will support this effort so we can really seek meaningful changes in how the church handles sexual abuse,” Attorney General Morrisey said.
The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has issued a statement in response to the lawsuit, calling the alleged actions by the Diocese “mind-boggling.”
“Failing to conduct background checks for those working or volunteering around children is bad enough. Employing known perpetrators is far worse,” reads the statement in part. “These decisions put children at unnecessary risk and why? To save some time on paperwork or make a hiring process easier? Such actions are absolutely mind-boggling.”
7News has reached out to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and is awaiting comment. This is a developing story, please stay with 7News for updates.