Investigators reviewing Diocese of Madison personnel files for evidence of sexual abuse by priests

Diocese hires independent firm
Investigators reviewing Diocese of Madison personnel files for evidence of sexual abuse by priests
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Investigators have begun reviewing all personnel files in the Catholic Diocese of Madison for any evidence of clergy misconduct and sexual abuse of minors, diocese officials announced Tuesday.

In a news release, the diocese announced an independent security and investigations firm composed of former FBI officials will examine documents throughout the history of the diocese back to 1946.

Following initial steps taken by the late Bishop Robert Morlino, investigative firm begins review of diocesan clergy files. More here: https://t.co/HyNpxWzKjX pic.twitter.com/PN4Cp4OAvt

— Diocese of Madison (@MadisonDiocese) June 12, 2019

“Any findings by the firm which possibly constitute heretofore unknown clergy misconduct will be turned over to diocesan investigators and the diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board,” the news release said. “Any new allegations of criminal behaviors in this regard will be turned over to appropriate law enforcement officials.”

The review was put into motion by former Bishop Robert Morlino, who died in November 2018. Diocese officials said the process of scheduling the review was delayed because of Morlino’s death.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests released a statement to News 3 Now about the announcement.

“The Catholic Church has already shown that it is incapable of policing itself,” wrote Melanie Sakoda, a survivor support coordinator for the organization. “We would be much more confident in an independent review of the records conducted by the professionals (of) law enforcement. We would urge the Wisconsin attorney general or the local district attorney to obtain these records using subpoena power, or even search warrants, and to examine the files themselves.”

The issue came to the forefront after scandals in diocese in other parts of the nation, as well as allegations against priests locally. The news release states that the diocese has made public seven priests who have had accusations deemed to be credible – including Archie Adams, Curtis Alvarez, Michael Trainor, Lawrence Trainor, Kenneth Klubertanz, J. Gibbs Clauder and Gerald Vosen.

An investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by the Rev. William A. Nolan, who had been in ministry in Madison and Fort Atkinson , is on hold by the review board while criminal proceedings are underway. Nolan is awaiting trial in September in Jefferson County court.

The release states that the diocese also has one open preliminary investigation “regarding a long-deceased priest.” They said the credibility of the allegation made against that priest will be evaluated by the review board “at which point the appropriate information, if any, will be made available.”

The diocese says they would take action on any new allegations that may surface.

“Any allegation against currently living priests, deacons or seminarians will result in immediate removal from ministry, pending the conclusions of investigations,” the release said.

The review is being conducted by Danny Defenbaugh, of Defenbaugh & Associates, who is a former FBI agent who investigated the Oklahoma City bombing as well as the 9/11 attacks.

There’s no estimate of time included in the release for how long the review may take, but a spokesman for the diocese said it should be done within a couple months.

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