The two brothers were molested by former priest John Feeney in the late 1970's and won $700,000 in damages in a civil trial. A judge later tossed out that jury's verdict and ordered a new trial after an appeal from the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.
Statement from Bishop David L. Ricken:
Snap, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, released this statement in reaction to the settlement from Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee)
"We are hopeful that today's settlement will bring some measure of justice in the long and torturous road to healing for Todd and Troy Merrifield and the Merryfield family, who have courageously fought for years to protect children from one of the Wisconsin's most notorious child molesters, Fr. Patrick Feeney.
The diocese could have settled this case after the guilty verdict in Appleton last spring. But they chose to continue their legal battle and assault on this family, even arguing in a motion for a new trail that the first amendment of the US Constitution allows them to transfer priests regardless of their history. And they continued this legal battle even when a jury found the diocese guilty of negligence for Feeney in Nevada in November for sending Feeney to that state after he was suspected he was assaulting children in Wisconsin
Without the persistence and bravery shown by the Merryfield brothers in stand up to the intimidation and legal machinery of the Green Bay diocese, Feeney never would have been convicted and sent to prison, and his history of sexually assaulting children across the Green Bay diocese and in Nevada and the cove up of those crimes would have remained secret.
The diocese has likely spent well in excess of the settlement amount ordered by the jury in the trial in which they were initially found guilty. They owe it to the Catholics of Green Bay and to the Merrryfieds to disclose that exact amount of money. It's hard to believe that charitable contributions, which is the only source of church money, were intended to legally battle two victims of Fr. Feeney for years on end, much less victims of other clergy sex predators and cover ups.
What the Merryfield's really wanted was for the Green Bay diocese to release the names, case histories and current locations of all known clergy that have assaulted children in the diocese over the past several decades. The only figures we have are ones that were submitted by the diocese to consultants hired by the US bishops at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004, in which 51 clerics in Green Bay had files with reports of sexually abusing children or minors over the years. That number includes members of the Norbertine religious order who are headquartered in the diocese and have many its clerics working in schools and parishes.
Parents and the public need to know who these individuals are, especially those new reports of abuse that have been reported to the diocese after 2004, regardless of when the abuse occurred."