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The Latest: Diocese disputes some allegations in lawsuit

March 19, 2019

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Latest on a West Virginia lawsuit accusing a Catholic diocese of knowingly employing pedophiles (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

The Catholic diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, is disputing some of the allegations in a lawsuit that claims the diocese knowingly employed pedophiles.

The diocese issued a statement Tuesday saying some of the allegations in the suit filed by the West Virginia attorney general aren’t accurately described. The diocese says it will address the lawsuit in the appropriate forum.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed the lawsuit against the diocese and its former leader, Bishop Michael Bransfield, using the state consumer credit and protection act. Several attorneys said using the act in such a way is unprecedented.

The suit alleges that the diocese and Bransfield chose to cover up arguably criminal behavior and that the diocese employed priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse without adequate background checks.

No one responded to a voicemail left with a phone number listed for Bransfield.

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12:00 p.m.

West Virginia’s attorney general has sued a local Catholic diocese and its former bishop, claiming they knowingly employed pedophiles.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the suit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Michael Bransfield on Tuesday.

The suit alleges the diocese and Bransfield chose to cover up arguably criminal behavior and says the diocese employed admitted sexual abusers and priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse without adequate background checks.

A diocese spokesman didn’t return a voicemail message, and no one responded immediately to a voicemail left with a phone number listed for Bransfield.

Earlier this month, Catholic Church officials announced they were imposing ministerial restrictions on Bransfield after an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed adults and committed financial improprieties. He resigned last year.

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