Las Vegas Court Orders Catholic Diocese in Wisconsin to Pay Abuse Victim

November 3, 2012

A court in Las Vegas ordered the Catholic Diocese in Green Bay, Wisconsin to pay a sex abuse victim a half-million dollars.

The court found the church neglected to protect the boy from known sex offender and former priest John Patrick Feeney.

The lawsuit involved one person, known in the Nevada legal system as John Doe 119. The plaintiff's lawyer says John Patrick Feeney abused the teenage boy soon after leaving Green Bay.

"[Feeney] then ended up landing in Las Vegas, at St. Francis de Sales, where this kid and his family were parishioners," says the plaintiff's attorney, Jeff Anderson. "And Feeney laid his hands on this kid in a way that no priest ever should.

Anderson alleged church officials in Nevada let Feeney transfer to Las Vegas without revealing a history of sexual abuse against him.

Anderson says,"Green Bay gave him a recommendation knowing that he had a history of molestation." Officials with the Green Bay Catholic Diocese would not go on camera.

Spokesperson Deacon Tim Reilly offered this statement, "The Diocese of Green Bay reiterates its apology to all victims/survivors of clergy sex abuse and reaffirms its commitment to keep all children safe from potential harm."

It's a trial that has opened wounds from another case. Feeney was convicted of molesting Todd and Troy Merryfield in 1978. The brothers are suing the Diocese for fraud. Troy Merryfield testified in the Las Vegas case.

Todd Merryfield says the abuse in Nevada was preventable, "The Diocese knew about us and moved him out there. They obviously knew, ahead of time, what he was capable of and moved him out there, and he proceeded to do the same thing."

It's not clear how the Las Vegas judgment will affect the Merryfields' upcoming civil case.

"A lot of hidden secrets have now been revealed," according to Anderson. "I expect more to be revealed in that trial when we get there."

The Merryfields' case against the Diocese is scheduled for May 8th, 2013.








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