Editor's Note: The following is an update on an ongoing situation with Fr. J. Gibbs Clauder, who has been removed from ministry since 1999. Brent King, spokesman for the Diocese of Madison, issued the following statement on March 30.
MADISON -- There is no place in the priesthood for those who would abuse a child, regardless of when the crime was committed. We as a Church and as a diocese have promised appropriate recognition, precaution and reporting, with regard to sexual abuse of minors and we renew that promise. We, herein, offer the public some background and an update, regarding Fr. J. Gibbs Clauder and the charges being brought against him:
In 1999, the diocese became aware of allegations of inappropriate relationships between Fr. Joseph Gibbs Clauder and at least one adult woman. The diocese investigated those allegations and concluded that Father Clauder should be prohibited from public ministry. Since that time, he has not exercised public ministry in the Catholic Church.
As recently as August of 2009, our office brought it to the public's attention that an adult and her family had come forward and alleged that Father Clauder had made inappropriate sexual contact with her, when she was a minor (this allegedly occurred long after he was prohibited from public ministry, by removal of faculties). After a preliminary investigation into the testimonies and review of the facts, the accusations against Fr. Clauder were found to be credible by the Diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board. Bishop Robert C. Morlino, therefore, referred the case to the Vatican, for its determination. In recent days, the diocese has received direction to proceed with a canonical trial, and we will pursue this trial after the conclusion of any criminal and/or civil trial.
We have remained, and will continue to remain, in close contact with the victim and the victim's family, offering our prayers and support, as they deal with this traumatic situation. At the time of the first release (August 11, 2009), those who brought this matter to the diocese's attention asked that the diocese not contact law enforcement officials. We honored their wishes, since the victim was an adult at that time (2009). The victim and the victim's family have since decided to contact legal authorities, a decision the diocese fully supports.
The diocese will continue to cooperate fully with civil authorities.
Please note: every incidence in which an allegation is made where the victim is still a minor, the diocese, itself, brings the matter to the attention of law enforcement officials. The diocese will always cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies.
Today, we bring it to the public's attention that detectives investigating this allegation have notified the diocese that criminal charges against Fr. J. Gibbs Clauder have been filed.
As always, any allegation of sexual misconduct involving priests, deacons, or other Church personnel should be reported to the Diocese of Madison by way of the Sexual Misconduct Question and Reporting Line, 608-821-3162. The diocesan policies regarding sexual abuse allegations, and instructions for making a report of sexual misconduct, are available on the diocesan website: www.madisondiocese.org