OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. — After more than 5 months, a preliminary investigation of allegations against Bishop Michael Bransfield is complete.
Bransfield is facing allegations of sexual harassment of adults, and now, another issue is coming to light.
In September, the church announced a preliminary investigation into Bransfield after allegations of sexual harassment of adults surfaced.
That report is now complete and is entering the final of three phases.
“Step III in the process would be the Vatican issuing their judgement, based on the findings of the report,” said Tim Bishop, a spokesman for the diocese.
Archbishop William Lori and a team of five lay experts have officially completed a 5-month investigation.
More than 40 individuals were interviewed, including Bransfield himself.
Based off the findings of the investigative team, Lori has blocked Bransfield from any sort of ministry within the diocese.
“Outside of the diocese of wheeling-Charleston, yes,” Lori said. “As part of his release, the archbishop has restricted the faculties of Bishop Bransfield within the diocese, so he can't celebrate the sacraments, can't celebrate mass.”
While interviewing individuals, another issue popped up and is also being investigated.
Along with the sexual harassment, financial impropriety allegations are also being looked at.
“He said that the investigation will flow where the truth leads. So, I think this is a result of the more than 40 sit-down interviews that the investigators held led it down the path of financial impropriety,” Bishop said.
That path included looking at general ledger transactions during the last 13 years.
There's no timetable as to how long the final judgment by the Vatican will take.
But we know for sure none of the allegations will lead to jail time for Bransfield.
“The report found there was no criminal activity undertaken. And certainly, had the investigators seen something that would be considered illegal activity, they would have taken it to the authorities at that time,” Bishop said.
As of right now, Bransfield can still celebrate the sacraments and mass outside of the diocese.