An Update on the Investigation into Bishop Bransfield
If you have information to share, contact the hotline at 1–833–272–4225
Since the petition for an independent investigation was started a month ago, more than 2,500 people have signed on demanding an independent investigation into Bishop Bransfield and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. (View the petition by clicking here).
Tim Bishop, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Diocese, and I spoke on October 12th to get an update on the demands made in the petition.
- Regarding the Attorney General investigating the allegations: The Attorney General for WV, Patrick Morrisey, has not made any direct contact with the Diocese according to Mr. Bishop. He added that despite Morrisey putting out a statement on September 13th saying the AG’s office reached out to the Diocese, in fact, they have not. However, Mr. Bishop reemphasized that the Diocese would cooperate with the AG’s Office should they reach out at anytime. . The AG’s Office stated on September 13th that, “We have reached out to the diocese and expect they will be fully cooperative in efforts to get to the bottom of these matters.”
I reached out to the AG’s Office on October 12th, they would not provide a statement about the Diocese’s comments at this time.
- Archbishop Lori appointed a 5 member layperson group to investigate the allegations against Bishop Bransfield. According to Mr. Bishop, this group is comprised of 3 men and 2 women. The Archbishop selected the individuals for their subject matter expertise in law enforcement, human resources, finances, and advocacy for survivors of abuse. 2 members are non-Catholics and all are laypersons. The identities of the group members are not known to Mr. Bishop and will not be made public while the investigation is ongoing.
- The mandate from the Archbishop to the investigators is not limited, though it stems directly from the allegations against Bishop Bransfield. Mr. Bishop was clear that if any improper conduct outside of the allegations comes up during the process of the investigation, Archbishop Lori has empowered the investigators to follow new leads.
- The investigators answer to Archbishop Lori, though he is not involved in the investigation. They are to submit a report directly to him at the conclusion of the investigation. He has charged the group with completing the investigation “expeditiously and in search of the truth.” Mr. Bishop stated he expects the investigation to take more than two months. At its conclusion the report and the identities of the investigators will be made public.
- If at anytime during the course of the investigation criminal wrongdoing is found, investigators will immediately contact law enforcement, according to Mr. Bishop.
- Anyone with information is encouraged to call the hotline: 1–833–272–4225. The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston does not have access to the hotline. Information is provided directly to the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the investigators.
- Mr. Bishop stated that multiple committees within the Diocese are currently crafting a plan to release more transparent records in the coming month or two. This may include a full financial report and possibly a list of Clergy accused of sexual misconduct.