Hearing in Lawsuit Against Catholic Diocese of Green Bay Set for July

Gannett Wisconsin Media

APPLETON — A hearing is set for July 15 in the lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay by two brothers who were sexually assaulted by a priest.

Todd and Troy Merryfield were victims of former priest John Patrick Feeney, who is in his fourth year of a 15-year prison sentence at Fox Lake Correctional Institution on four sexual abuse charges.

Feeney, 81, was the parish priest at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Freedom in 1978 when the assaults took place. The Merryfields were 12 and 14 years old at the time.

The brothers are seeking unspecified damages in Outagamie County Circuit Court following a recent state Supreme Court ruling that allows victims such as the Merryfields to sue the church under the fraud statute, which is not subject to the statute of limitations.

In a filing Friday, however, the diocese asked that the case be dismissed on grounds that it has no basis under the fraud statute and is subject to the statute of limitations.

Outagamie County Circuit Judge Nancy Krueger set a deadline of May 12 for a reply brief from the Merryfields’ attorney and set the matter for a hearing on July 15.