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  Another Priest Faces Accusations
Clauss Confined to Treatment for Years

By Maureen Hayden
Evansville Courier & Press
May 9, 2002

The Rev. Joseph L. Clauss, former pastor of Resurrection Catholic Church in Evansville, has been named as another diocese priest accused of sexual abuse of a child. Clauss, 71, has been confined for more than a decade to an institution for priests who are sexual offenders, following allegations of an incident of sexual abuse that took place in Ohio in 1990, according to Evansville Catholic Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang. "Father Clauss was and is confined to an institution in New Mexico and is not allowed to leave without supervision," said Leingang. "He has performed no priestly functions since then."

The institution is in Jemez Springs, N.M., and is run by the Servants of the Paraclete. The religious community operates psychiatric treatment centers for Catholic clergy with sexual disorders. Leingang confirmed, after being questioned by the Evansville Courier & Press, that Clauss is one of several retired or deceased Evansville diocesan priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors, and were sent away for treatment. Evansville Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger has declined to name those priests. Gettelfinger was out of town Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

The revelation about Clauss' status comes after the Courier & Press reported Sunday that two other priests, both in active ministry, have been in treatment for sexual offenses involving minors. Those priests are the Rev. Michael Allen, 57, who remains pastor of St. Peter Celestine Catholic Church in Celestine, Ind., and the Rev. Mark Kurzendoerfer, 47, who is on temporary leave from his post as associate pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Haubstadt, Ind. Leingang had few details about the incident that prompted Gettelfinger to terminate Clauss' active ministry. He said the incident was initially reported to the Evansville diocese in 1990. Diocese officials then reported it to "the appropriate authorities" in Ohio, where the incident took place, said Leingang.

Leingang also said the diocese this week received a new allegation of abuse involving Clauss. The report of the allegation was prompted by the Sunday story in the Courier & Press. Leingang said the allegation will be reported this week to the Vanderburgh County prosecutor. Leingang said the person who made the allegation will be accompanied to the prosecutor's office by diocesan lawyer David V. Miller. At the time of the 1990 allegation, Clauss was pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church in Montgomery, Ind. He was pastor at Resurrection Church from 1975 to 1986. Clauss was also a former high school teacher at Memorial High School in Evansville, and superintendent of St. John High School in Loogootee, Ind., and Washington (Ind.) Catholic High School. A telephone message left at the Servants of the Paraclete - to get Clauss' comment and to verify if he was at the facility - was not immediately returned Wednesday night.

 
 

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