Trial Begins For Priest Charged With Sexual Assault

A jury trial is under way for a Madison priest accused of sexually assaulting a child.

The Rev. Joseph Clauder is charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child.

Prosecutors said Clauder was part of the victim’s family by marriage.

The alleged incidents occurred in December 2003, when the priest and the female victim were both at a hotel in Stevens Point celebrating a family member’s graduation, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint said that when the victim and a female cousin went to Clauder’s hotel room to get him for dinner, he asked the girls, “If you could meet anyone in heaven, who would it be?”

The victim said a grandfather and started to cry, the complaint said. Clauder “moved his hand up her leg and rubbed her private parts below her waist,” according to the complaint.

After a similar incident in the spring of 2004, Clauder allegedly told the victim “this is what people did when they loved and cared about each other,” according to the complaint.

The Madison Roman Catholic Diocese has said that Clauder was removed from his public role as a priest in 1999 when the diocese became aware of an inappropriate relationship with an adult woman.

The trial is expected to continue Wednesday.