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Lawsuit accuses ex-bishop of sexually harassing seminarian

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — The former bishop of West Virginia's Roman Catholic diocese is facing another lawsuit accusing him of sexual harassment. The complaint against Michael J. Bransfield, who resigned last year, was filed in mid-September in Ohio County Circuit Court, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reported . Attorney Robert Warner filed the lawsuit on behalf of a recent seminarian in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

A lawsuit accusing Bransfield of molesting boys and men was confidentially settled in August. That lawsuit came on the heels of a new wave of sex abuse allegations in the U.S last year. According to the new lawsuit, the seminarian met with Bransfield in 2015 after realizing he wanted to become a priest, according to the complaint. The seminarian said the diocese later paid for his schooling and gave him a free vehicle. He accuses Bransfield of inappropriately touching and kissing him multiple times beginning in December 2017.

"Despite the public invitation by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston inviting anyone who has been victimized by a priest to report their experiences," the complaint states, the seminarian, "has been met with hostility in his attempts to communicate with the investigator regarding the abuse he suffered at the hands of Bishop Bransfield."

Diocesan spokesman Tim Bishop declined to comment. "We cannot comment on pending litigation, but we do plan to address the suit in the proper forum," he said. Attempts to reach Bransfield were unsuccessful Monday, The Intelligencer reported.

Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net

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