Madison Priest Suspended since "99 Charged with Molesting Teen in 2004

By Bruce Vielmetti
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 31, 2011

A Madison priest who had been removed from active ministry in 1999 due to complaints of improper sexual conduct with a woman he was counseling was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in 2003 and 2004.

Father Joseph Gibbs Clauder, 64, threatened the girl not to tell anyone about the assaults, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. She finally went to church officials in 2009, when she was 20. Madison Catholic Diocese officials told the State Journal that they did not immediately inform police because the woman wanted it handled within the church.

In August 2009, Madison Bishop Robert Morlino referred the case to Vatican officials after a diocesan board found the complaints credible.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the organization learned of that and informed the state Attorney General's office in 2009.

"Up until SNAPís letter to the AG, no report was made to law enforcement officials by Morlino, as required by Wisconsin state law," said John Pilmaier, SNAP Wisconsin director. " Instead, Morlino had sent all the criminal evidence to the Vatican, claiming after SNAP made the case public, that the victim did not want to allegedly go to authorities."

The woman who had an affair with Clauder in the early 1990s tried to sue the Madison diocese for negligent supervision of its priest. In 1997, the state Supreme Court ruled the 1st Amendment separation of church and state barred her claim.

Clauder was scheduled to make his first court appearance in Dane County Circuit Court on Thursday. He is charged with 2nd degree sexual assault of person under the age of 16.


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