By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (W.Va.) is denying he ever sexually abused anyone, and says he was not aware that abuse of children was taking place at a property he owned.
Bishop Michael Bransfield issued a statement today from Rome, where he is attending meetings at the Vatican.
Bransfield, who was named by a prosecution witness during the Philadelphia priest sex abuse trial, denies the allegations leveled against him.
The prosecution and the witness claim that Bransfield had a relationship with alleged pedophile priest Stanley Gana and allowed him to use a shore house that Bransfield owned in New Jersey where Gana allegedly assaulted boys during the 1980s.
The witness also implicated Bransfield himself in abuse.
Bransfield adamantly denied the allegations saying, “I have never sexually abused anyone.”
Bransfield says that while he recognizes he is a public figure open to criticism, the nature of the statements and the manner in which they were released go “way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety.”
The accusations against Bransfield came up during the trial of Philadelphia priests William Lynn and James Brennan. Brennan is charged with sexually abusing a boy, and Lynn is charged with covering up abuse by priests. Both have pleaded not guilty.