Merryfield Brothers to Discuss Settlement in Green Bay Diocese Child Sex Abuse Fraud Case
March 22, 2013
Merryfield brothers to discuss settlement in Green Bay diocese child sex abuse fraud case
They challenge Bishop Ricken: “What about the other 50 priests besides Fr. Feeney reported to have sexually abused youngsters?”
Case documents and testimony, SNAP says, has exposed Green Bay diocese pattern and practice of secrecy and cover up, past and present
Two brothers, Todd and Troy Merryfield, will be joined by leaders of SNAP, The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org, SNAPwisconsin.com), at a sidewalk press conference to discuss their recent settlement with the diocese of Green Bay concerning the fraudulent concealment and transfer of serial child sex offender, John Patrick Feeney.
The brothers and SNAP will further discuss the importance of the case:
–in revealing the conduct of Green Bay church officials, both past and present, in protecting priest child sex offenders;
–in showing a culture of institutional secrecy about these crimes, including the shredding of criminal evidence in priest abuser files; and
–in displaying how Catholic charitable money is used to fund dangerous legal arguments by church officials that could put children at risk in Wisconsin.
The Merryfield’s and SNAP will also:
–renew their call for Bishop Ricken to immediately create a public registry of the names and case histories of the at least 50 other sex offender clerics who have been reported to the diocese over the past several decades to have molested youngsters.
FRIDAY, March 22, 1:30 p.m.
Headquarters of the Diocese of Green Bay, Melania Hall, 1825 Riverside Drive, Green Bay
Last Friday, the diocese of Green Bay jointly settled with brothers Todd and Troy Merryfiled a civil fraud case for $700,000 dollars. As youngsters, the Merryfields were sexually assaulted by serial child molester, Fr. John Patrick Feeney. The settlement amount was ordered by an Appleton jury last spring after finding the diocese guilty of fraud. Although that case was scheduled for a retrial, due to the judge’s opinion about the conduct of one of the jurors, the diocese has since been found guilty by a Nevada jury.
In the late 1970’s, the Merryfields’ mother first reported to church officials that her sons, one twelve and the other fourteen, had been recently sexually molested by Feeney. Unknown to the mother, the bishop of the Green Bay diocese had already been warned of Feeney’s sexual disorder and danger. Instead of facing prosecution, Feeney was transferred to new parish assignments, and eventually out of the State of Wisconsin to a Nevada church, where he continued to sexually assault youngsters. (see John Feeney’s assignment history.)
In 2002, Feeney was criminally prosecuted and convicted by a Wisconsin jury of child sex assault.
The diocese, according to a secret 2004 summary report, had received over the years at least three dozen reports of sexual assault by victims or witnesses concerning Feeney (see confidential summary letter by Fr. John Dorflerr, dated October 13, 2004)
In January of 2008, the Merryfields filed their fraud case, seeking the full record of what church officials knew about Feeney, when they knew it, and what they did about him. In response, the bishop of Green Bay waged a legal battle against the brothers, arguably the most costly in the history of the diocese.
Since then it has been learned that just before the Merryfields filed their case, the Green Bay bishop ordered the shredding of nearly all of the diocese’s abuse related documents and criminal evidence besides those of Feeney’s. (Much of Feeney’s file had already been obtained and made public in the prior criminal investigation.)
Details of the 50 additional sex offender clerics, besides Feeney, were given by the diocese to a confidential national study being conducted of abusive priests for the American bishops by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004. 18 of these reported offenders are Norbertine clerics. The Norbertines are headquartered in De Pere and staff schools, parishes and ministries for the Green Bay diocese.
The diocese has refused to disclose the names and case histories of these 50 clerics. No further information it is believed has been released since 2004 of either newly reported abusive clerics or additional reports of clerics already identified as abusers.
And in a recent court motion, the diocese argued that the first amendment of the US Constitution should legally immunize a bishop from all corporate liability or fraud in his employment decisions with priests, even if those priests are sex offenders.
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (414.429.7259 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice Hodek, SNAP Green Bay Director (920.497.0795 / email@example.com)
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org. Statements and releases about Fr Murphy and the deaf survivors can be found at SnapWisconsin.com.