Jury Rejects Schauer Lawsuit against Green Bay Diocese

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

A Taylor County jury found that David Schauer did not meet with church officials in March 1990 and shot down his chance at pursuing a civil claim against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay for being molested by a priest.

Schauer, now 29, was fondled by then-Rev. Donald Buzanowski, who was working as a counselor at Green Bay's Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in fall 1988. Buzanowski, who has since been defrocked, was convicted in July 2005 of two counts of sexual assault of a child and is serving a 32-year prison term.

Schauer sued the Green Bay diocese, Ss. Peter & Paul School, Buzanowski and several insurance companies in 2003, but had the case dismissed later that year because Brown County Judge Mark Warpinski believed the time limit to file a lawsuit had expired.

In September 2004, the state Court of Appeals sent the case back to Warpinski's court and the issue of threats and their effect became a matter for a jury to decide.

The four-day trial hinged on a single legal axiom called equitable estoppel, a claim that diocese's threats kept Schauer from filing suit before the statute of limitations expired. Schauer said that he and his mother met with Rev. David Kiefer in March 1990 and were told that if they said anything about Buzanowski's conduct, the diocese would sue Schauer for defamation.

Schauer claims he decided to file suit in 2003 shortly after learning that Buzanowski claimed to have molested 13 other boys and had continued to work with children.

A Taylor County jury of seven men and four women decided the case to combat pre-trial publicity in Brown County. The first of five questions the jurors were to decide hinged on whether David Schauer met with church officials. By deciding "no" the rest of the verdict became a moot point. All five questions had to have been answered affirmatively for Schauer to prevail.

It's likely the end of civil case pending post-verdict motions by Schauer's attorney.



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