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Allegation of
clergy abuse merely an attempt to come out?

Allegation of
clergy abuse merely an attempt to come out?

A 26-year-old Wisconsin man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest when he was an altar boy concocted the story to explain to his parents why he is gay, the accused priest's attorney argued Thursday. Attorney Patrick McDonald urged Rock County circuit court jurors to award compensatory and punitive damages to the Reverend Gerald Vosen for what McDonald said were the false accusations made by the man.

In a two-hour closing argument, McDonald said the Milwaukee man made up the story about being abused in fifth and sixth grade at St. John Vianney School in Janesville to justify his sexual orientation to his parents. "That's why he made up this lie," McDonald said. "Little did he suspect this was going to mushroom and have a devastating effect on so many lives." McDonald said the man's parents quickly reported the allegations against Vosen to the diocese of Madison and that the man was forced to stand by what he had said.

Vosen is seeking damages for humiliation, mental anguish, and damage to his reputation in a defamation lawsuit against the man. The man's attorney, John Casey, was expected to deliver his closing arguments later Thursday. The jury will then be asked to decide if the allegations are false and, if so, how much in damages Vosen should receive. Vosen is on administrative leave from his job as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo.

A cloud of suspicion has surrounded Vosen since a woman speaking at a hearing on a clergy sex abuse bill at the state capitol two years ago said the priest had abused her brother during the 1970s. The diocese suspended Vosen, even though the woman's brother denied he ever was abused, and launched an investigation. Bishop Robert Morlino placed Vosen on administrative leave in February 2004, saying the investigation confirmed that at least one of three victims' allegations was credible. (AP)

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