CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The net assets of West Virginia’s Roman Catholic Diocese dropped by $4.8 million during a fiscal year that coincided with the resignation of its bishop amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, an audit shows.
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston released the audit last week spanning the period from June 30, 2018, to June 30, 2019. Net assets totaled $352.3 million, down from $357 million a year earlier, according to the findings made public by current Bishop Mark E. Brennan. Liabilities totaled $70.3 million, up from $65.2 million.
A church investigation last year found Bransfield misused diocese funds for lavish spending on dining out, liquor, vacations, luxury items and church-funded personal gifts to fellow bishops and cardinals in the U.S. and the Vatican.
The investigation also found sexual misconduct allegations against Bransfield to be credible.
Brennan said the diocese incurred significant expenses arising from the investigation of Bransfield and “various legal issues” involving the diocese. The audit listed spending on investigations and lawsuits at $1.5 million.
The diocese announced in August it had confidentially settled a lawsuit filed by a former personal altar server accusing Bransfield of molesting boys and men. The filing asserted Bransfield would consume at least half a bottle of liqueur nightly and had drunkenly assaulted or harassed seminarian