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  Church Stance

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May 8, 2002

Excerpts from Bishop Thomas Doran's statement

I am here to respond to allegations that a priest in the diocese, Father Harlan Clapsaddle, was involved in acts of sexual misconduct with minors. I can confirm that such charges were made regarding incidents that occurred about 25 years ago. ...

We take charges of sexual abuse of minors by anyone affiliated with the diocese very seriously, and I want to take this occasion to express my personal sorrow and apologies to the family involved. ...

Sexual abuse of anyone - but most especially innocent children - is both an unspeakable sin and a serious crime. I find it despicable and repugnant. It is both a travesty and a tragedy, and any perpetrator will have to answer to his or her God for such a truly awful and horrible breach of trust and faith. ...

Father Clapsaddle was removed promptly more than five years ago - as soon as we had probable cause to believe the charges were true - and he has never again been given a pastoral post that would give him access to children. ...

For our part, the diocese entered into a settlement with the family members that provided them with $80,000. ...

In accord with diocesan policy, when he returned to the diocese, his faculties as a priest were severely restricted to assure that children would be protected, and he was not given a new pastoral assignment. ...

The statute of limitations for both civil and criminal proceeding had long expired when the case was presented to the diocese more than five years ago. ... 'There is no statute of limitations on our policy - and that is no accident.' ...

If anyone alleges sexual abuse by anyone affiliated with the diocese - clergy, religious or lay employees or volunteers - I urge them to call the police first and then to contact our misconduct officer at 815-962-9347. We are committed to acting quickly and decisively to protect the welfare of children - just as we did in the case of Father Clapsaddle. ...

If it turns out that our performance has not measured up to our standards, I will apologize to the aggrieved party and make amends. ...

On the basis of what I know today, I am convinced that the diocese acted responsibly in accord with our own policy.

 
 

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