Kaul launches clergy sexual abuse probe

MADISON, Wis. — Attorney General Josh Kaul has launched an investigation into clergy sexual assault across Wisconsin’s five Catholic dioceses.

Kaul announced the investigation Tuesday during a press conference with survivors of sexual abuse. Clergy sexual abuse survivors and their allies have long demanded that Kaul open an investigation.

“The people of Wisconsin, and especially victims, deserve an independent review of clergy and faith leader abuse,” Kaul said. “With this initiative, we are seeking to ensure that survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse have access to needed victim services, to help prevent future cases of sexual assault, and to get accountability to the extent possible.”

Officials in at least 22 other states have opened similar investigations into sexual misconduct within church hierarchies.

Kaul declined to discuss his investigators’ strategies, but said if they uncover new cases they will refer them to prosecutors.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Diocese of Madison leaders said they will review Kaul’s request for a clergy sexual abuse review as soon as its received.

“The Diocese of Madison takes the issue of sexual abuse of minors very seriously and based on its own, ongoing initiative remains vigilantly committed to providing healing to any victims and their families, and to fostering trust based on its diocesan safe environment policies spanning two decades,” the statement reads.

Officials with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee say they’re concerned the probe could re-victimize survivors.

Anyone who has information about the church’s response to abuse is encourage to report it online at SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov or by calling 877-222-2620.