Testimony Ends in Civil Case against Green Bay Diocese

Green Bay Press-Gazette [Medford WI]
February 1, 2007

Testimony is complete in David Schauer's civil lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay and a Taylor County jury could begin deliberating early this afternoon.

At issue is whether church officials intimidated Schauer from suing the diocese in 1990.

Schauer, now 29, was molested in 1988 as a student at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Green Bay.

Donald Buzanowski, a priest working at the school, was convicted by a Brown County jury in July of two counts of sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

A Taylor County jury is hearing the case to combat pre-trial publicity stemming from the raft of pre-trial hearings in Brown County. Jurors have heard the evidence and are expected to be given instructions on the law after lunch. They then should hear closing arguments from the lawyers before beginning deliberation.

Schauer's civil case was filed against Buzanowski, the school, the diocese and several insurance companies in April 2003 and asks for damages to compensate Schauer for the fallout of Buzanowski's attacks. The case was dismissed in 2003 based on statutes of limitations, but reinstated by the state Court of Appeals. Schauer claims the church's threats against his family kept him from filing a lawsuit at the time.

If a jury finds that there was influence and intimidation by the church — a legal axiom called equitable estoppel — the statute of limitations no longer applies and the civil case will go to a liability phase where damages could be assessed against the church and the now defrocked Donald Buzanowski.

Schauer, now 29, lives in Marshfield and recently graduated with a nursing degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


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