Parole Denied for Ex-Priest

Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune [Appleton WI]
November 23, 2004

APPLETON, Wis. - A parole application has been denied for a former Roman Catholic priest sentenced in April to 15 years in prison on sexual assault charges.

The move Monday came in the case of John Patrick Feeney, 77, found guilty after a jury trial in February on three counts of sexual assault of a child and one of attempted sexual assault of a child.

The charges stemmed from the 1978 assaults of two brothers, who were then 12 and 14, when Feeney was parish priest at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Freedom.

Because he was sentenced under the law as it existed in 1978, he became eligible for parole after serving only six months of his sentence.

He will be eligible for parole again Nov. 4, 2006, said Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Clausius.

Unrelated to the parole denial, Feeney's attorney, Gerald Boyle has filed a motion seeking to have Feeney's conviction set aside.

Outagamie County Circuit Judge Dennis Luebke scheduled a hearing on the motion for Jan. 14.

The attorney said Feeney left Wisconsin in 1983, just short of the expiration of the state's six-year statute of limitations in the matter. But Boyle said Feeney was still employed by the Green Bay Diocese and technically remained a Wisconsin resident.

"The defendant submits that his incardination with the (Diocese) of Green Bay does constitute a physical presence in the state," Boyle said.

The attorney also argues that Feeney's sentence is unduly harsh because of the former priest's age.

"The defendant submits that under the sentence that he received he will be 80 some years old before he is even eligible for parole and released from the system," Boyle said in his motion.

But special prosecutor Vince Biskupic, a former Outagamie County district attorney, said he was confident all the rulings at the trial level will be upheld.


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