Jury Rejects Lawsuit against Green Bay Diocese
Victim Ruled Not to Have Been Present at Meeting with Church Officials
By Andy Nelesen
Appleton Post-Crescent [Medford WI]
February 2, 2007
A Taylor County jury deliberated for two hours Thursday before turning away a priest abuse victim's civil lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.
After three days of testimony, a seven-man and five-woman jury found that it didn't believe David Schauer was present during a March 1990 meeting in which he alleged diocese officials threatened him and his family with a defamation lawsuit if they went public with their accusations against then-Rev. Donald Buzanowski.
The jury's decision ends Schauer chance of pursuing a civil case against the diocese, pending post-verdict motions by Schauer's attorney.
Schauer, now 29, claimed the threats of a lawsuit against him — as a 12-year-old boy — and his family are what prevented him from filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired.
He said he filed a lawsuit only after learning in 2003 that Buzanowski continued to work with children after Schauer came forward to authorities.
In July 2005, a Brown County jury convicted Buzanowski of two counts of sexual assault of a child for fondling Schauer during student counseling sessions at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Green Bay in the fall of 1988. Buzanowski, 64, is serving a 32-year prison term for the attacks.
Buzanowski was suspended as a priest in 1990 and defrocked in 2005.
The question of whether Schauer was even at the 1990 meeting was the first of five questions jurors had to answer. They needed to answer "yes" to all five for Schauer to prevail. A "no" to the first question made the rest moot.
Schauer said he was disappointed in the jury's decision.
"I understand that it's a legal technicality and that the jury was a bit limited what they could hear in the case," Schauer said after the decision. "I am certain that if they had that chance (to hear other facts), they would have found differently."
Brown County Circuit Court Judge Mark Warpinski has already dismissed the case once, in 2003, by ruling that Schauer's case was filed after the statute of limitations deadline had expired.
Andy Nelesen writes for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
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