A bishop at the United States known as Monsignor Michael J Bransfield who was accused of molesting adults in the latest sex abuse scandal to rock the Catholic Church resigned today.
Pope Francis has accepted his resignation as bishop of Wheeling-Charleston in the US state of West Virginia, a Vatican statement revealed.
According to reports, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said on its website that Bransfield, 75, will be investigated over “allegations of sexual harassment of adults.”
The probe is to be led by Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, who was named interim leader of the diocese.
He pledged to “conduct a thorough investigation […] into the troubling allegations.”
“A hotline has been established for those wishing to share any information related to this investigation,” the diocese added.
Again, reports have it that Bransfield was previously accused of molesting teen boys in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
The hearsay allegations surfaced during a 2012 trial of other Catholic priests, but the alleged victim rejected them as false, and Bransfield professed his innocence.
Bransfield’s ouster was announced on the day leaders of the US Catholic Church were meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss a response to other sex abuse scandals.
In August, a grand jury report in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania concluded that the US Catholic Church systematically hushed up sex abuses committed by 301 priests over a period of 70 years.
A month earlier, retired Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was stripped of his cardinal title after being outed as a serial abuser of young priests and seminarians.
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