Priest Found Not Guilty Of Sexual Assault

A jury has acquitted a Madison priest accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2004.

The Dane County jury acquitted Joseph Gibbs Clauder, 65, late Monday after deliberating for about 10 hours.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Clauder and his attorney hugged and clapped each other’s backs after the verdict was read. Clauder said after the verdict he feels “vindicated and stronger.”

The girl, now 22, alleged that in April or May 2004, Clauder came to her house, asked for a tour and fondled her in her bedroom. She testified in court last week that Clauder had done a similar thing at a hotel in Stevens Point during a family gathering in December 2003.

The Madison diocese removed Clauder from his public role in 1999 after they learned about an inappropriate relationship he had with an adult woman.