After a series of sex and financial scandals, former Wheeling-Charleston bishop Michael J. Bransfield is expected to pay damages.
At the Pope’s request, a plan had been drawn up stipulating the conditions under which the sum of $ 792,638 should be paid. The money should flow into a fund that advises victims of sexual abuse in the church, said the current bishop of the diocese, Mark E. Brennan.
Church-internal investigations had shown that the allegations against Bransfield that he had committed sexual misconduct were credible. He also misused the diocese’s money for private travel, alcohol and luxury goods.
According to the bishop, Bransfield had failed to make his own proposal for compensation. It should now adhere to the guidelines “for its own spiritual well-being and for its healing”.
Bransfield had left office last year, but had always emphasized his innocence. In July, Pope Francis denied him access to all offices, prohibited him from continuing to live in the diocese, and announced claims for damages.
Bransfield was investigated in 2007 for alleged sexual assault. The priest denied the allegations. According to the church, the allegations could not be substantiated.
West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey had indicted Bransfield and the diocese for covering up criminal behavior in March. He asked the church on Tuesday to disclose its investigative reports on the controversial clergyman.
“It is time the diocese really cleaned up and started to leave this terrible scandal behind,” said the attorney general.