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  Victim: Church Slow Prosecuting Priest

By Sid Schwartz
Janesville Gazette Extra [Wisconsin]
March 6, 2005

A former Reedsburg man, who claims the Rev. Kenneth Klubertanz also molested him, said the church is dragging its feet in the prosecution of the priest.

"It's taken so long," the 48-year-old man said. "It's taken over a year now just to get word that there's going to be a canonical trial. Rome works so slow.

"It really works on you at times. You feel defenseless. You feel hopeless."

He is one of three men who have accused Klubertanz of inappropriate sexual contact.

Unlike Christopher Leonard, a former Janesville man who claims Klubertanz molested him in 1975, the former Reedsburg man does not want his name published.

"Some have said, 'If you come out, maybe others will come out.' That may be true, but then I have to live with the stigma."

The man said Klubertanz sexually assaulted him when he was 12 while they were alone at a cabin in northern Wisconsin.

"For a good year or two, he was manipulating me as altar boy-hugging me, winking at me, touching me all the time behind the altar. Then he was at my family's home a lot, and then pretty soon he was asking if he could take me up north.

"When we were at the cabin, he asked if I wanted any liquor. I don't remember drinking much. He asked me to take my shorts off in the boat and go swimming if I wanted to. I didn't. I wasn't that good of a swimmer.

"That night I'm in bed, and pretty soon I wake up and he's on top of me. It happened three more times that weekend."

The next winter, the man said, Klubertanz invited him up north to go snowmobiling.

"I wonder if I had a choice," the man said. "My dad was a very disciplinary guy. With 10 kids, you didn't argue much. I don't remember having any decision. I'm sure I was told to go. I don't think I would have wanted to go otherwise."

They stayed at a motel, where Klubertanz again attempted to assault him, the man said.

He fled to the bathroom.

"I remember sitting down on the floor in that bathroom with my back against the bathtub and my feet against the door and not letting him in," the man said. "He was pushing on the door.

"I didn't come out until the next morning. I told him I wanted to go home. We never did go snowmobiling. I remember when I got home everybody asked, 'How was the snowmobiling?' I said, 'We didn't go.'

"I never said why."

He grew angry. He was kicked out of his Catholic elementary school. He was in fights constantly. His parents took him to counseling.

"My dad said I clamped up when I would go to counseling," he said.

He married his wife in a Catholic church but eventually couldn't go to Mass anymore. His wife wanted to know why.

"I told her something happened to me when I was a kid. I did finally break down and tell her some of it, not much detail," he said.

He later told his parents.

"My dad said, 'We kind of figured something went on up there. When you came back, you were nothing but trouble. We figured there was something, but we couldn't get nothing out of you.'"

In 2003, the man filed a lawsuit in Dane County against the diocese, saying the church failed to protect him from Klubertanz. The lawsuit later was dismissed. A 1995 state Supreme Court decision makes Wisconsin the only state where it is nearly impossible for victims to sue the church.

The man said he has since met several times with Bishop Robert Morlino, who is in charge of the Madison Diocese.

"They said they'll take care of me," the man said.

Meanwhile, he waits for Klubertanz's canonical trial.

He gets a call every week from the diocese victim assistance coordinator.

"She says, 'We're working on it. We're working on it.' Well, I've been working on it myself all my life.

"I dug it out of my deep cellar in my mind, and it ain't going to go away," he said. "I don't know how I'm going to get closure now.

"There's no excuse to be dragging this on for so God-damned long, especially when you have victims hanging."

 
 

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