Merryfields can seek punitive damages

Claim Catholic diocese knew of priest abuse

Reporter: Ryan Dietz

APPLETON – A judge ruled Troy and Todd Merryfield can seek punitive damages for what they believe was an intentional cover-up of abuse by the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.

In 2004, former priest John Patrick Feeney was convicted of sexually assaulting the brothers in 1978, when they were teenagers. He is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

The Merryfields claim the diocese knew about abuse by Feeney and covered it up. They say they want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s just another step forward for our side in holding them accountable for what they did in the past so they don’t repeat it in the future,” said Jeff Anderson, the attorney for the Merryfields.

The Diocese of Green Bay said in a statement to FOX 11, “Despite today’s decision by an Outagamie County Circuit Court to allow for a claim of punitive damages, the Diocese of Green Bay has and will continue to defend its innocence in the allegations of fraud”

Attorneys for the Merryfields have 10 days to submit a new complaint. The amount of punitive damages will be decided by jury at a later trial.

The next hearing is scheduled for April.