March 19 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed in West Virginia Tuesday says a local diocese and bishops "knowingly" hired pedophiles to work at summer camps and schools.
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed the suit naming Bishop Michael J. Bransfield -- the most recent bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese -- as someone who employed pedophiles and put children in the camps and schools at risk.
The suit says the diocese and its bishops, including Bransfield, hired admitted sexual predators and people "credibly accused of child sexual abuse," failed to disclose "the inherent danger" to parents and failed to conduct adequate background checks for other employees.
Bransfield served as bishop of the diocese between 2005 and his retirement in 2018.
The complaint was the result of an investigation Morrisey began in September. A month earlier, a Pennsylvania grand jury accused more than 300 clergymen of abuse, including one or more priests who'd been employed in the diocese. That report prompted the investigation to see if priests in West Virginia had been accused, the suit says.
"Parents who pay and entrust the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and its schools to educate and care for their children deserve full transparency," Morrisey said in a statement. "Our investigation reveals a serious need for the Diocese to enact policy changes that will better protect children, just as this lawsuit demonstrates our resolve to pursue every avenue to effectuate change as no one is above the law."
The suit says, for example, the West Virginia diocese knowingly ordained one priest despite credible accusations of abuse. That priest received treatment after the accusation and was later employed as a chaplain at a Catholic high school.