Lawsuit against Diocese to Be Re-Tried in May

The Post-Crescent
September 7, 2012

APPLETON A lawsuit brought by two childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay will go before a jury for the second time next year.

Judge Nancy Krueger this week scheduled a May trial in Outagamie County Court in the civil case brought by brothers Todd and Troy Merryfield.

A jury found in the Merryfields' favor in May and awarded the brothers $700,000. Krueger, however, granted the diocese a new trial after concluding that one of the jurors was biased. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals this week declined requests from both sides seeking review of decisions made after the verdict.

The Merryfields claim the diocese knew the Rev. John Feeney had a history of sexual misconduct when it installed him as a priest at Freedom's St. Nicholas Church and falsely portrayed him as safe even though church officials knew he was a danger to children.

The brothers, then 12 and 14, were molested by Feeney in 1978.

The diocese disputes having had knowledge of his sexual misconduct.

The Merryfields asked the appeals court to review Krueger's decision granting a new trial. Their attorneys argued the verdict should stand because the juror in question repeatedly maintained she could be fair and impartial.

The diocese argued the case should be dismissed rather than brought to trial for a second time.

Krueger last month rejected the diocese's argument that the Merryfields delayed filing the civil lawsuit against the diocese, hampering the diocese's ability to mount a defense because so much time passed between the assaults and the lawsuit.

The first trial lasted six days. Jurors deliberated about five hours before returning a decision.

Krueger scheduled the second trial to begin May 6 and set aside two weeks.


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