NBC: Verdict Reached in Green Bay Diocese Trial
5/21/2012 10:45:00 PM
A jury finds the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay liable in a civil trial accusing it of fraud.
Todd and Troy Merryfield filed the civil suit against the Diocese after
evidence of other victims came out during John Patrick Feeney's criminal
trial. An Outagamie County Judge awarded Todd Merryfield $225,000 and
Troy $475,000 in court on Monday.
The case was centered around former priest John Patric Feeney who was
convicted in 2004 of sexually assaulting the brothers in the 1970s.
Both sides issued passionate pleas to the jury. Attorneys for the
brothers asking for a combined 2 point seven million dollars in damages.
The diocese says its key witness Bishop John Wycislo is dead, but
attorney Patrick Brennan insists the church defended itself the best way
it could, almost 30 years after Feeney abused the Merryfields. "So is
this is emotional distress, they testified and they cried at one point
we all know that but we've sought to bring you a fuller picture."
Brennen told the court.
Troy Merryfield attorney, John Peterson, told the court his client
still has the emotional scars from 30 years ago. "As a consequence of
that abuse he suffers from anxiety that will continue for the rest of
The Merryfields say the bishop knew of incidents when Feeney showered
and swam nude with kids and had inappropriately touched and kissed two
underage girls on a church retreat. The attorney for Todd Merryfield the
church knew what was going on at the time. "The Bishop and his circle,
they are the ones who hid it."
The jury was given a questionnaire with 10 questions to consider. Unlike
in a criminal case where the jury's verdict must be unanimous, just 10
of the 12 jurors need to agree to find the diocese responsible.