Tearful Testimony in Church Fraud Trial
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
APPLETON - Todd and Troy Merryfield took the stand Wednesday in the fraud trial against the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.
Former priest John Patrick Feeney was convicted of sexually abusing the brothers in the 1970's. Wednesday, the brothers gave an emotional account of what happened.
"I would never put this stress on anyone, it tears families apart," said Troy Merryfield.
Todd Merryfield says years of trying to hide the abuse eventually broke up his marriage, when he was involved in a criminal investigation of Feeney in 2002.
"I lived all those years keeping this buried. I didn't want anyone to know," he said.
The family says they had come to trust Father Feeney. They say they welcomed him inside their home and let him visit the brothers inside their bedrooms on the night of the abuse.
"Of course I trusted him. He is God's hand on earth. If you can't trust a priest.. who can you trust?" said Todd Merryfield.
"I trusted him because he's a priest," said mother Sharon Merryfield.
The Merryfields' attorneys say they will spend the next few days trying to convince jurors that Feeney was a child predator.. and that church leaders were aware of it.
The trial continues Thursday morning with the Green Bay Diocese calling its witnesses. The trial is expected to be completed by Wednesday of next week.