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Verdict Reached in Green Bay Diocese Trial

Heather Burke

Verdict Reached in Green Bay Diocese Trial

CREATED May. 21, 2012

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY--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 his life."

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.

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