Duluth priest successfully sues his accuser

Minnesota Lawyer

September 24, 2018

By Mike Mosedale

In a man-bites-dog case with few if any precise corollaries, a Roman Catholic priest designated as “credibly accused” of sexual misconduct by the Diocese of Duluth just last April has successfully sued the man who made the allegations against him.

After a three-day trial before 6th Judicial District Court Judge Theresa Neo, an eight-member jury awarded the Rev. William Graham $13,500 to compensate him for the $500 monthly stipend he did not receive during the period from May 2016, when he was placed on administrative leave from his job as parish priest at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Duluth, to August 2018, when the trial was held.

In answers to questions listed on a special verdict form, the jury said that Graham’s accuser, former Duluth police officer T. J. Davis, Jr., “intentionally interfered” with Graham’s employment and, further, that his actions were not justified.

But the jury also found that Davis’ conduct was not “so extreme and outrageous that it passed the boundaries of decency and was utterly intolerable to a civilized community” and it expressly declined to award additional damages that would “fairly compensate” Graham.

What is one to make of such an odd, seemingly contradictory verdict?

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