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West Virginia Attorney General sues diocese and former bishop over sex abuse

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (Getty)

The move could set a new precedent in dealing with abuse allegations

The Attorney General of West Virginia is suing the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and former bishop Michael Bransfield, claiming they “knowingly employed pedophiles and failed to conduct adequate background checks” for employees working in schools and camps,

Patrick Morrisey tweeted that he was filing the civil action against the diocese and bishop for “deceiving consumers and claiming their schools were safe when they were employing credibly accused pedophiles.”

The Washington Post reported that the move could set a precedent in dealing with child abuse allegations against the Church.

Marci Hamilton of CHILD USA said: “This is the most that we’ve seen so far in terms of prosecution, in terms of someone in the higher levels of the hierarchy. This is the first time we’ve seen a comprehensive claim against a whole diocese and a bishop.”

Last week, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori barred Bishop Bransfield from priestly duties within the diocese. Lori is investigating allegations that Bransfield sexually harassed adults and has forwarded a report to the Vatican for final judgement.