Green Bay Diocese Ordered to Pay $500,000 in Las Vegas Abuse Case
November 2, 2012
A lawsuit in Las Vegas, Nevada, involving a former Wisconsin priest is going to cost the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay a half a million dollars.
The plaintiff claimed former priest John Patrick Feeney sexually abused him when he was 13-years-old in 1984.
At the time, Feeney was serving as a priest at a Las Vegas church.
Feeney is also the center of a civil trial involving Todd and Troy Merryfield. That case is scheduled for a retrial in Outagamie County next year.
The latest lawsuit involved a person known in the Nevada legal system as John Doe 119.
The plaintiff's lawyer says John Patrick Feeney abused the teenage boy soon after leaving Green Bay.
"And then ended up in Las Vegas, St. Francis de Sales, where this kid and his family were parishioners. Feeney laid his hands on this kid in a way that no priest ever should," said Jeff Anderson, plaintiff's attorney.
Jeff Anderson alleged church officials in Nevada let Feeney transfer to Las Vegas without revealing a history of sexual abuse against him.
"Green Bay gave him a recommendation knowing that he had a history of molestation," said Anderson.
Officials with the Green Bay Catholic Diocese would not go on camera. Spokesperson Deacon Tim Reilly offered this statement:
"The Diocese of Green Bay reiterates its apology to all victims/survivors of clergy sex abuse and reaffirms its commitment to keep all children safe from potential harm.”
It's a trial that has opened wounds from another case. Feeney was convicted of molesting Todd and Troy Merryfield in 1978. The brothers are suing the diocese for fraud.
Troy testified in the Las Vegas case. His brother Todd says the abuse in Nevada was preventable.
"The diocese knew about us, and moved him out there. They obviously knew ahead of time. What he was capable of, and moved him out there and he proceeded to do the same thing," said Todd Merryfield.
It's not clear how the Las Vegas judgment will affect the Merryfields' upcoming civil case.
"A lot of hidden secrets have now been revealed and so I expect more to be revealed in that trial when we get there," said Anderson.
The Merryfields' case against the diocese has been scheduled for May 8, 2013.
In May of this year, a jury had awarded the bothers $700,000.
But a new trial was ordered after a conflict surfaced involving a juror.