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 December 6, 2011.
MADISON -- The Rev. J. Gibbs Clauder, recently acquitted by the Dane County Circuit Court of criminal charges of sexual assault of a young woman, will now undergo a canonical trial related to the allegation. In coming weeks, the Diocese of Madison will undertake the preliminary steps in this process.
The Diocese brought to the public’s attention, in August 2009, 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 (after being prohibited from public ministry, in 1999, by removal of faculties for allegations of inappropriate relationships between Fr. Clauder and at least one adult woman.). 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 referred the case to the Vatican, for its determination. The Diocese received direction to proceed with a canonical trial. The process of that trial was held until the criminal case was concluded.
We have remained, and will continue to remain, in close contact with the woman bringing forth the accusation and her family. We offer our continued prayers for her and all involved in this case. As always, the Diocese of Madison offers full cooperation with civil authorities, throughout an investigation and trial.
Many of the trial structures are similar to what we expect from a civil court, as they are historically related: notaries swear in witnesses and keep record of all testimonies and there is a presumption of innocence on the part of the defendant.
Evidence and arguments will be heard by a college of three to five judges, who lead the investigation and questioning. A promoter of justice is appointed, whose job is to represent the diocese as the prosecutor in penal cases. The accused has the right to an advocate, to argue for them at the trial. The same is true of all parties.
As more information is available, the Diocese will continue to keep the public updated as to major actions and decisions.
As always, any allegation of sexual misconduct should be brought to the attention of law enforcement officials. If an allegation involves a priest, deacon, or other Church personnel, regardless of when it is said to have occurred, it should also 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