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W.Va. diocese releases names of priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors

November 30, 2018

WHEELING - The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released the names of 31 clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors from the 1950s to the present, including five who at some point in their careers served at churches in Huntington.

None of the incidents appear to have occurred in Huntington parishes.

Among those included in the list from the diocese:

The Rev. Franklyn W. Becker acted as the Marshall University Catholic Community Chaplain and served at St. Joseph Catholic Church from January 1975 to August 1976. Multiple incidents referencing Becker were reported to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee between 1970 and 2002, but none were reported to the DWC. He departed the DWC in 1976 and was dismissed from the clerical state in November 2004.

The Rev. James Biene was a teacher at St. Joseph Central High School from 1979 to 1981 and served a residency at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Huntington from March 1981 to October 1981. He left the DWC in the same year. Incidents were reported concerning Biene to the Archdiocese of St. Louis from 1964 to 1978 and 2000 to 2003.

The Rev. Victor Frobas served at Our Lady of Fatima in Huntington from May to October 1967. He served at several other churches across the state from the 1960s through the ’80s, and his faculties were revoked by the DWC in January 1987 after multiple claims of minor abuse. Frobas was indicted for inappropriate contact with minors in 1987 in St. Louis. He died in 1993.

The Rev. Robert J. Rooney served at St. Joseph Catholic Church between December 1954 and December 1959. Two incidences were reported against Rooney in 1962 and from 1964 to 1967, while Rooney was on leave from the DWC. He was investigated for abuse of a minor in New Jersey. He died in 1994.

The Rev. Richard Schaefer served at St. Joseph Catholic Church from September 1962 to June 1963. He had multiple claims of abuse of a minor against him from 1967 to the late ’70s. His faculties were suspended by the DWC in 1986. He died in 1998.

A hotline has been created to aid anyone who wants to report cases of sexual abuse by clergy, staff or volunteers in the diocese. Those who may be a victim of any abuse by any member of the church can contact the local civil authorities and the Office of Safe Environment for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston by calling a newly set-up Sexual Abuse Hotline at 833-230-5656. All calls to the hotline will be answered by staff members equipped to properly document details of abuse and direct callers to victim’s assistance if required.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.

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