Baraboo Priest Is Still Absent
Diocesan Board Is Reviewing a Sexual Abuse Allegation, but Church Officials Say They Have No Evidence of Wrongdoing

By Brian Bridgeford
Wisconsin State Journal
November 29, 2003

The Rev. Gerald Vosen continues to be absent from St. Joseph Catholic Church as a diocesan board reviews a sexual abuse allegation against him, a Madison-based church spokesman said Tuesday.

However, church officials have no evidence of wrongdoing on Vosen's part, they say.

A church advisory board on sexual abuse by priests is still looking into an abuse allegation made against Vosen in September, said Bill Brophy, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison. Vosen continues to live at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Center in Madison.

Vosen became the subject of the allegation when a woman testifying at a legislative hearing reported he abused her brother 26 years ago in a cabin on Lake Wisconsin. The brother, James Dresang of Madison, rejected the report of abuse a few days later.

While the sister has filed a complaint with church authorities, Vosen has not been charged with any crime.

Brophy said he does not know how soon the Sexual Abuse Review Board of the Madison Diocese will complete its work. After reviewing the allegations and evidence, the board must submit a recommendation to Bishop Robert Morlino. He is head of the diocese and will decide whether Vosen returns to his parish.

Brophy said that, while Vosen is not with his parish, he is not officially on administrative leave during the time of the investigation. Morlino has stated he does not believe there is any evidence of wrongdoing by Vosen.

"If (Morlino) had any evidence the allegations were substantial, I think he would put him on administrative leave," Brophy said. "He hasn't taken that step yet."

Baraboo resident Richard Bates said he and other members of the St. Joseph congregation are impatient with the amount of time the review board is taking to make a decision about Vosen.

"They say he's not suspended, but he's not with us," Bates said. "I think it's wrong for the parish, and it's wrong for him. They've had plenty of time to make a decision."

Bates said that members of the parish are gathering every Monday evening to pray for Vosen's welfare and that something good will happen.

Morlino is on vacation in Rome, and some speculated that might be the reason for the delay, but Brophy said the bishop contacts the diocesan office daily.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.