Update: Bishop Denies Testimony Alleging Sexual Abuse - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Update: Bishop Denies Testimony Alleging Sexual Abuse

Posted: Updated: April 20, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -

Blogger Kristen Byrne is in the courtroom at the Philadelphia Archdiocese priest-abuse trial.

A Roman Catholic bishop from West Virginia vehemently denied trial testimony in the Philadelphia Archdiocese case alleging that he sexually abused children.

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese released a statement on Thursday after two victims named him in their testimonies while describing their own abuse to the jury.

"To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking," Bransfield said. "I have never sexually abused anyone."

On Wednesday, a victim testified about his nearly five year long sexually abusive relationship at the hands of Rev. Stanley Gana, a priest at his nearby Kensington parish. The man told the jury about his summers spent on Gana's northeastern Pennsylvania farm, where much of the abuse took place.

While working on the farm one summer in the early 1980s, the witness said he saw Bransfield, a native of Roxboro, drive by with several teenage boys in his car.

After Bransfield drove away the witness said Gana told him, "they're his fair-haired boys. The one in the front seat he is having sex with."

The man said Gana and Bransfield were friends, and he recounted suffering abuse by Gana at Bransfield's shore house in New Jersey.

Bransfield said he was "deeply saddened" by these allegations, and claimed he was not aware of the incident between Gana and the witness that allegedly took place at his shore home.

Bransfield has never been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, however his friendship with Gana is mentioned in the 2005 grand jury report concerning the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Gana was not defrocked until 2006.

Wednesday's testimony outlining the the abuse and the friendship between Gana and Bransfield came after the prosecution said a West Virginia judge will not honor their petition for a witness. The prosecution wants Monsignor Kevin Quirk to testify. Quirk was one of the judges for defendant James Brennan's canonical trial in 2008.

Quirk is now under the West Virginia diocese and is Bransfield's assistant. It is unknown at this time whether he will testify in the trial.

Although Gana and Bransfield are not on trial with Monsignor William Lynn and Brennan, prosecutors are using past allegations and decisions to bolster their case that Lynn buried allegations of molestation by members in the priesthood, and moved accused priests to unwitting parishes.

Lynn has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy in endangering the welfare of a child, and Brennan has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

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