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  Accused Priest Put on Leave
The Priest Denies Having Sexual Contact with Minor 27 Years Ago

By Robert Gutsche
Wisconsin State Journal [Madison, WI]
June 10, 2002

A Lodi priest has been put on administrative leave following an allegation that he had sexual contact with a minor 27 years ago, the Diocese of Madison said Sunday.

The Rev. Kenneth Klubertanz, who has been pastor at St. Patrick parish for two years, denies the allegation involving a 13-year-old boy while Klubertanz was an associate pastor in Janesville, said diocese spokesman Bill Brophy.

The alleged victim contacted the diocese late last week. Now, it will investigate what might have happened, Brophy said. He said the passage of time could make the investigation difficult.

This is the first time the diocese has used its policy on sexual abuse of minors, which requires that priests be put on leave during an investigation, according to a written statement from Bishop William Bullock.

Klubertanz, who was ordained in 1966, said in a written statement to the parish that he "cannot believe the accusations" and has told the bishop "they are absolutely untrue."

Klubertanz asked for the parishioners' prayers and said, "If this embarrasses anyone, I ask forgiveness." He could not be reached Sunday night.

Because the accuser has asked the diocese not to release his name, the diocese hasn't turned the accusation over to civil authorities, Brophy said.

Since January, when the case of a pedophile priest in Boston attracted national attention, at least 300 lawsuits in 16 states have been filed against Roman Catholic dioceses, alleging sex abuse.

However, some lawyers say intense media coverage may spur false claims.

Bullock has appointed the Rev. Michael Richel, pastor at St. Albert the Great parish in Sun Prairie, to take over in Lodi, north of Madison.

The diocese's sexual abuse policy, instituted in 1993, requires that upon receiving word of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, the diocese must remove the priest and begin an investigation.

It mandates the diocese to identify the needs of the victim and the victim's family and to "heal the community where each scandal has hurt, alienated or angered people."

 
 

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