Thu July 19, 2012
New trial called for in Diocese of Green Bay abuse case
An Outagamie County judge has ordered a new trial after the Diocese of Green Bay challenged a civil judgment stemming from the case of a priest convicted of abusing two brothers.
This spring $700,000 was awarded to brothers Troy and Todd Merryfield, who were abused by Priest John Patrick Feeney in the 1970s.
Feeney was de-frocked, convicted, served time, and is now living in Missouri. John Pilmaier is the director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Pilmaier says the Merryfield brothers did not pursue punitive damages, instead settling for the $700,000 for pain and suffering. “It was never about the money; it's about holding people accountable, getting the truth out. And for the Diocese of Green Bay to turn around on them and try to have the verdict thrown out is really vindictive.”
Deacon Tim Riley is a Diocese spokesman. He says the church takes issue with the fraud judgment against it on several grounds, including the statute of limitations, what it considers a biased juror, and the fact that the bishop who served at the time of the abuse is no longer alive to defend himself. “What they allege is that Bishop Wycislo knew this man had a known history of sexual molestation and was a danger to children and in spite of that put him in the parish with the intent to abuse the kids. And it's just too unbelievable.”
An attorney for the Merryfields calls the judge's order “disappointing.”
Correction: the first-posted version of this story mis-transcribed Deacon Riley's statement. We have corrected the transcript and regret the error.