Former W.Va. Priest's name removed from athletic center, hospital

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WHEELING, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE: 2/7/2019

Photo: NBC News

The name of a former West Virginia Roman Catholic bishop at the center of a sexual assault investigation has been removed from a high school gymnasium and a hospital building in Wheeling.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reports the Wheeling Central Catholic High School's board of directors recently voted to remove Michael J. Bransfield's name, which had been placed on the gym last spring.

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston delegate for administrative affairs Bryan Minor says Archibishop William E. Lori accepted the board's decision.

Lori was appointed to oversee the diocese after Pope Francis accepted Bransfield's resignation in September and authorized an investigation into allegations he sexually harassed adults.

Bransfield's name also has been removed from a care center at Wheeling Hospital after being been placed there in July.


Thursday's announcement by the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese releasing the names of priests "credibly accused" of past abuse against minors, was quickly followed by a statement from the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

SNAP noted a name missing from the list is that of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.

Bishop Bransfield resigned his post from the diocese earlier this fall, after accusations he sexually abused a number of adults.

There have also been accusations of abuse involving minors.

Diocese spokesman Tim Bishop said Friday the list of priests, which include officials from St. Margaret Mary Church and Parkersburg Catholic High School, only involved priests whose cases were reviewed and found to be credible.

"The allegations that were made against Bishop Bransfield involve charter issues that took place when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," Bishop said. "The Archdiocese of Philadelphia conducted its own investigation, and found those allegations to be non-credible."

Bishop says tips have been made to a hotline set up by the diocese to report sexual abuse cases. The hotline number is 1-833-230-5656. He says those calls are being followed up on.

SNAP has also called for an investigation into the records of the diocese by the West Virginia Attorney General's office. Bishop says the diocese would cooperate with such an investigation.

We contacted the Parkersburg institutions with priests and school officials mentioned in the report. Both declined comment.


The names of several former Roman Catholic clergy members with ties to the Mid-Ohio Valley appear on a list released by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston that says they have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors.

The list dates back to about 1950 and is based on a review of more than 2,000 files, the diocese said in a news release Thursday.

Four of the six who worked in the Parkersburg area have died. Two others are no longer involved in the ministry.

“We hope the release of this list will be one of many steps taken to restore trust with parishioners and the broader community in West Virginia, said Archbishop William E. Lori, apostolic administrator for the diocese. “We hope people see the release of this list as a sign of good faith that the diocese is committed to transparency, accountability and to providing a safe environment for children and adults.

“As we continue to pray for all the victims of sexual abuse, let us also recommit ourselves to do everything we can to ensure the protection of all who are entrusted in our care.”

According to the diocese, a “credible” accusation means there is reasonable cause to believe that an offense has occurred considering all factors—time, place, age of the parties, background and history available, personnel files, and any other pertinent facts.

The list does not include those cases where an accusation was not credible—meaning an accusation which, after review by law enforcement and/or other civil, lay, and church officials, was not supported by evidence or there is no reasonable probability that the accused committed sexual abuse of a child.

The list does not differentiate between criminal or non-criminal misconduct committed by priests, rather it refers specifically to violations of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002.

Those on the list with ties to the Mid-Ohio Valley include:

Rev. Carl E. Bauer Jr., St. Margaret Mary, Parkersburg, June 1963-June 1966 and Parkersburg Catholic High School principal, June 1966-June 1969; inappropriate touching of a minor; victim reported incident to diocese in 2004; allegedly happened in 1969 or 1970; retired in 2002; died in 2015

Rev. Lawrence D. Brown, St. Margaret Mary, Parkersburg, January-April 1985; two instances of abuse of a minor; incidents reported to diocese in 2002 or 2003 and 2018; allegedly happened in 1972 and 1982 or 1983; died in 1993

Rev. William Carr, St. Francis Xavier, Parkersburg, 1950, three weeks; abuse of a minor; reported to diocese in 2002; allegedly happened between 1950-56; retired in 1971; died in 1984

Rev. James Joseph Chetock, St. Margaret Mary, Parkersburg, November 1993-January 1995; St. Michael, Vienna, June 2002-June 2005; abuse of a minor before ordination as a priest; reported to diocese in 2018; allegedly happened in 1978-79; suspended and voluntarily left ministry in 2005

Rev. Patrick Anthony Condron, St. Francis Xavier, October 1977-August 1980; St. Joseph Prep Seminary, Vienna, August 1980-June 1987; abuse of a minor; reported to diocese in July 1995; incident allegedly happened between 1983-87; suspended in 2006; clergy status removed in 2012.

Rev. Paul J. Schwarten, St. John’s, St. Marys, W.Va., 1972-June 1981; abuse of a minor; reported to diocese in 1951; incident allegedly happened in 1951; arrested for inappropriate touching of a minor in Nebraska; reported to diocese in 1960; allegedly happened in 1960; abuse of a minor; reported to diocese in 1981; happened in 1975 or 1976; served 18 months in prison; died in 1995