Complaining that he was blindsided while on church business in the Vatican, the bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday angrily denied trial testimony in Philadelphia alleging that he sexually abused a child during the late 1970s.
"I have never sexually abused anyone," Bishop Michael J. Bransfield said in a statement the diocese released. Bransfield, 68, issued his statement after two witnesses at the child sex-abuse and conspiracy trial involving Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests referenced him while describing their own alleged abuse, and a prosecutor said Bransfield had been accused in a separate instance of fondling a minor.The witness said he was building a flagstone wall when a car pulled up driven by then-Father Bransfield that contained several teen boys." 'They're his fair-haired boys,' " the witness said Gana told him after Bransfield drove away. " The one in the front seat he is having sex with.' " The witness said Gana and Bransfield were close friends and added that he was once sexually abused by Gana during a visit to Bransfield's Shore house in Brigantine.
"The implication was clear," the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, asserted in court Tuesday after the jury had been sent home for the day. "Bransfield is having sex with those boys, the same as Gana is having sex with Gana's boys." Prosecutors are also aware of a separate allegation "of a fondling of a student by Bransfield," . . .
On Monday, another accuser told jurors that once, after abusing him, Gana put him on the phone with Bransfield, who was then in Washington. He said Bransfield told him: "I'm going to have Stanley put you on a train and come down and see me sometime." Bransfield has never been charged with sexually assaulting any children, although his friendship with Gana was mentioned in the 2005 grand jury report of clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese.
Bransfield said Philadelphia prosecutors had been told he was not aware of or present at the Brigantine house when the alleged sexual encounter occurred between Gana and the witness. The bishop added that he let "numerous friends and priests" use the Shore house. Gana, 69, was removed from ministry in 2002. He was laicized in 2006.
Wednesday's testimony about the friendship of Gana and Bransfield came after city prosecutors told Sarmina a West Virginia judge had refused to honor a "material witness petition" from the District Attorney's Office. According to Blessington, the unnamed West Virginia judge had prevented him from calling to the stand Msgr. Kevin Michael Quirk, one of three church judges in the 2008 canonical trial of the Rev. James J. Brennan on child sex-abuse charges.
The failure to address that question was again criticized Thursday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: "Every day that Bransfield refuses to make Father Quirk testify, he is helping to keep alleged clergy sex crimes and cover-ups covered up. We have to wonder what Bransfield fears about Father Quirk's testimony."
What is truly disgusting is that these predatory priests felt that they could sexually molest youths as a matter of right - sort of a Droit du seigneur mindset - and their superiors seem to have gone right along with it - at least until such time as the talk and rumors could no longer be suppressed or the civil authorities became involved. What a cesspool. Yet these freaks and accessories to crimes continue to try to direct others on how they should live their lives. Why does anyone continue to listen to them?