Amended sex abuse suit filed against Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

West Virginia

WHEELING — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced an amended lawsuit Tuesday against the diocese and former Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned last year.

The amended complaint details allegations the Diocese chose not to publicly disclose a report of child sexual abuse by a teacher in 2006 and permitted several individuals to work or volunteer at Catholic schools without adequate background checks.

“How can anyone reasonably argue that these allegations are old when the Church refused to release its list of credibly accused priests until after the issuance of our subpoena in the fall of 2018?” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The Church needs to come clean and end the secrecy.”

The amended complaint alleges the Diocese relied upon Bishop Michael J. Bransfield’s policy of nondisclosure when it failed to publicly report allegations of a Catholic school teacher abusing a teenage student in Kanawha County. An internal investigation in 2006 alleged the teacher gained the student’s trust with alcohol and prescription drugs, before multiple instances of sexual abuse on and off school property.
 
The amended complaint also includes new allegations against Victor Frobas during an assignment at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Weirton from 1980 to 1982. There the now-deceased priest pulled elementary school children out of classes and is accused of using video games to gain the trust of those who were then abused in an on-site residence.

The Attorney General, who initiated the investigation in September 2018, brought the action against the Diocese and Bishop Bransfield for violations of the state’s consumer protection laws, in addition to seeking a permanent court order blocking the Diocese from the continuation of any such conduct.

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will be in Wheeling Tuesday with a big announcement.

Morrisey will disclose several new developments in his lawsuit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

The lawsuit is based on information included in the Diocese’s November 2018 public disclosure of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

The announcement will be made 10 a.m. at the Ohio County Courthouse.

Stay with 7News for updates.

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