Priest Files Suit against Accuser
He Wants to Clear Name
May 14, 2004
A Wisconsin priest who is on administrative leave while the Roman Catholic Church investigates sex abuse allegations against him is suing the family of an accuser.
The Rev. Gerald Vosen claims in the lawsuit filed last week in Rock County Circuit Court that a 24-year-old Janesville man and the man's parents, also of Janesville, made false statements about the priest to the Madison Diocese.
"At this point the main thing for Father Vosen is to clear his name," said Mark Reitz, Vosen's attorney. "He's not asking for any specific sum of money. Whether it's a dollar, $10 or $10,000, he wants to clear his name."
The attorney for the alleged victim, John Casey of Milwaukee, said the lawsuit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, is an attempt gain legal advantage in sexual abuse investigations being conducted by the Catholic Church.
"He is also a man looking to make money from his abuse," he said.
Casey said the alleged victim, in making his complaint to the church, followed guidelines by the U.S. Council of Bishops and the Diocese of Madison.
"The church requested a statement. He gave that statement, and now he's being sued," he said. "I find it appalling and shocking."
Reitz said the 24-year-old man alleged that Vosen committed sexually abusive acts between 1989 and 1991 when the man was in fifth and sixth grades at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Janesville. Vosen was pastor of St. John Vianney Catholic Church at the time.
The family told representatives of the Madison Diocese about the abuse in summer of 2003, Reitz said.
"Those allegations are, have been and always will be false," Reitz said.
Vosen, 70, of Merrimac, was informally suspended in September from his pastoral duties at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Baraboo after a Sun Prairie woman told a legislative committee in Madison that he sexually abused her brother more than 25 years ago.
But the brother later denied that any abuse occurred.
On Feb. 13, Vosen was placed on formal administrative leave after Madison Bishop Robert Morlino determined three cases of reported abuse were credible enough to refer to church authorities at the Vatican for investigation.
Reitz said one case involved the accusations by the Sun Prairie man, and another involved a woman who told of being abused but didn't know the name of the priest.
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