WHEELING, W.Va. — The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (DWC) announced two third-party reporting systems for people to use about concerns and allegations of abuse and harassment in the diocese.
DWC officials announced on Monday the partnership with Navex Global to roll out a new version of its EthicsPoint platform, intended to report suspected financial, professional, and personal misconduct of a priest, deacon, religious, or lay employee of the diocese, parish, or Catholic school in West Virginia.
This comes more than a year after the Catholic Church investigation concluded disgraced former Bishop Michael Bransfield sexually harassed younger priests and misused millions of dollars in church money.
The diocese said in a release that on a national scale, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has its own third-party reporting system called the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service. This reporting system is established to receive reports of sexual abuse and interference with sexual abuse investigations on the part of bishops in the United States.
These reports will be relayed to a lay person in each diocese with experience in such matters, who will assist the Metropolitan Archbishop in the investigation, according to DWC. Where a report indicates a crime, such as the sexual abuse of a minor, it will also be reported to civil authorities by the website’s third-party vendor. The website to make such reports is reportbishopabuse.org.
The two reporting systems are both services in addition to the Diocesan Office of Safe Environment, which has offered a direct, discreet way to report sexual abuse within the Diocese.
EthicsPoint can be accessed via the Diocesan web site under the “Accountability” tab, the “Report Misconduct” tab at the bottom of the page, or by calling 1-844-723-8381. Those utilizing the reporting tool may do so anonymously, as EthicsPoint provides anonymity for those who wish to report and are concerned about retaliation or repercussions, according to a release.
“This new system offers an extra layer of accountability and gives anyone who may have been harmed a guarantee that their voices will be heard,” Bishop Mark Brennan said in a statement. “We know that it is important for people who come forward in good faith to be able to report anonymously. EthicsPoint allows for this.”
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston encourages reporting to civil authorities first and foremost if a crime has been committed.”
Brennan is also encouraging utilizing the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service to generate a report. Brennan encourages anyone with reason to believe that a bishop has engaged in sexual misconduct or has interfered with an investigation into sexual misconduct to contact civil authorities in the applicable jurisdiction and also to visit reportbishopabuse.org to report.
DWC encourages reporting to the appropriate civil authorities first as well as to the appropriate church authorities. To report suspected cases of sexual abuse of children by clergy, religious or lay personnel of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to the Diocese, please contact one of the Bishop’s designees at 1-888-434-6237.
The proper extensions:
Sr. Ellen F. Dunn, O.P., ext. 264
Mr. Bryan Minor, ext. 263
Mr. Tim Bishop, ext. 353
Very Rev. Dennis R. Schuelkens Jr., V.E., ext. 270
The Office of Safe Environment: 304-230-1504