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West Virginia sues Catholic diocese


West Virginia's Attorney General on Tuesday announced it had filed suit against a Catholic diocese in the state, alleging that it knowingly employed pedophiles.

“Parents who pay and entrust the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and its schools to educate and care for their children deserve full transparency,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in a statement to The Hill.

“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 civil complaint alleges that the diocese and former Bishop Michael J. Bransfield did not conduct adequate background checks and sometimes hired staff who admitted to sexually abusing children.

The suit alleges that Father Patrick Condron admitted to sexually abusing a student, was sent to treatment, then assigned to a local elementary school. Parents were allegedly not notified that a pedophile was being employed at the school.

Several cases similar to Condrons are detailed in the suit.

“Today is a sad day, but the Attorney General still believes there are so many priests and deacons in the Catholic church — who are good men — who will support this effort so we can really seek meaningful changes in how the church handles sexual abuse,” Morrisey said.

The allegations in West Virginia come as the Catholic Church has been embroiled in a child sexual abuse scandal for years that includes bombshell reports accusing hundreds of priests of abuse in states such as Pennsylvania.