An Outagamie County jury ruled on Monday that the Green Bay Catholic Diocese covered up Rev. John Feeney’s history of sexual abuse, which allowed him to prey on brothers Troy and Todd Merryfield, when they were 14 and 12 years old.
In 2004, Feeney was convicted of sexually assaulting the boys, however, after the trial, the Merryfield’s learned that Feeney had a history of sexual assault throughout the 1960s and 1970s, well before Feeney assaulted the brothers in 1978. The Merryfield’s discovered that the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay knew of Feeney’s history and hid it from members of the church.
In 2008, the Merryfield brothers filed a lawsuit against the diocese, and the late Bishop Aloysius Wycislo, who was responsible for ensuring the priests of the diocese were fit to serve, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs asked the jury to award Todd 900,000 and Troy $1.8 million for pain and suffering, and medical costs related to the assaults. An attorney for the diocese argued that if the diocese was found guilty, the award to the brothers should only be 100,000.
The jury decided to award Troy $475,000 and Todd $225,000; however, the jury reconvenes today to decide punitive damages.