Attorney General Asked to Investigate Diocese

By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 21, 2009

An advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse has asked the Wisconsin attorney general's office to investigate whether the Catholic Diocese of Madison is complying with state laws on reporting child sex offenders to law enforcement authorities.

The case involves Father Joseph Gibbs Clauder, who has been on administrative leave since 1999 over allegations of sexual misconduct with an adult. The diocese issued a statement this month saying it has credible evidence suggesting Clauder engaged in child sex abuse and was sending the case to the Vatican for final judgment.

In a letter to the attorney general's office delivered this week, the Midwest Chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked the agency to determine whether the diocese is complying with state laws on notification and to urge the diocese to turn its records of abuse over to authorities.

In 2004, Wisconsin added clergy to the list of professions in which suspected child sex abuse must be reported.

William Yallaly, a spokesman for Madison Bishop Robert C. Morlino, said that the diocese offered to notify police on behalf of the victim, but that the victim, now an adult, declined. He said the diocese interprets the law as requiring notification only when the victim is still a child. He declined to provide any details, including when or where an assault may have occurred, or the age and gender of the victim.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said it is reviewing the SNAP letter. The statute as written, he said, contemplates cases in which the abuse is discovered while the victim is still a minor. It does not specifically address cases in which the victim is now an adult, said Special Assistant Attorney General Kevin St. John.


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