Priest's abuse case sent to Vatican, local group wants prosecution

WKOW TV News, Wisconsin/August 20, 2009

Madison - This month, the Madison Catholic Diocese admitted allegations of sexual abuse of a child made against a Madison-area priest are credible.

The bishop referred the case against Joseph Gibbs Clauder to the Vatican for judgment, but one group says that's not enough.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wants open information and prosecution.

SNAP members stood outside J.B. Van Hollen's office Thursday, asking the Wisconsin attorney general to investigate possible crimes committed by a local priest against parishioners.

Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, SNAP says, has evidence of the abuse, and has not handed it over to police.

"This evidence, this box of evidence, whatever he's got - he should be handing it over to law enforcement, sending a message to the community - the old days are over with when we covered this up," said Peter Isely, SNAP midwest director.

Fr. Clauder was ordained in 1973. He's currently on administrative leave, after allegations of sexual miscount with a woman in 1999.

Now, he's accused of sexually abusing a child. The diocese confirmed this information, calling both allegations "credible," and referred the case to the Vatican in Rome for judgment.

Though he's forbidden to practice ministry, Fr. Clauder's whereabouts are unknown, leaving some residents uneasy.

"We have a sex offender living in the diocese, living in the community somewhere - could be your neighbor, could be in your rectory," said Isely. "We have no idea."

At least 18 clergy in Wisconsin have been charged or convicted of sex abuse crimes, and 98 publicly accused, according to

Calls to the Madison Diocese were not returned.

A spokesperson for J.B. Van Hollen says the office will review SNAP's request, and that anyone who knows of sexual abuse or crimes against children should come forward and report it right away.

Joseph Gibbs Clauder served at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Monona, at St. Dennis Parish in Madison and he was a chaplain at the former Madison General Hospital.

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