West Virginia’s newest bishop is calling for his predecessor, Michael Bransfield, to atone for his past wrongdoings.
This request comes after Pope Francis made a statement in July, suggesting Bransfield be replaced as bishop and that an outside leader decide his punishment. Some members of the Catholic church say this is the first time a bishop has faced such allegations.
Accused of both sexual and financial misconduct
Mr. Bransfield initially resigned from his post as bishop in September of 2018, after allegedly misusing Catholic church funds and sexually assaulting seminarians and young priests.
According to a recent report, he allegedly inappropriately touched a nine-year-old girl on a church trip to Washington, D.C. back in 2012.
Stripped of other benefits as punishment
As Mark Brennan was put in Bransfield’s old position in the fall of 2019, he has since issued a list of penalties for Mr. Bransfield. Some of those include:
- Losing the normal retirement package bishops usually obtain for a significantly lower amount.
- Losing the right to be laid to rest in the diocesan cemetery.
- Issuing formal apologies to those he sexually mistreated.
- Paying taxes to the IRS that initially used for personal expenditures.
Those convicted of sex crimes should face consequences
While more information about Mr. Bransfield’s accusations is still coming to light, those in influential positions who sexually exploit others can cause significant hardship for them and their families. Those who have been sexually abused by a religious official should seek legal counsel. A dedicated and aggressive attorney can help their clients get the justice they deserve.