The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Previously secret documents on Green Bay pedophile priest show clear church cover up
Records indicate that Attorney General threatened to prosecute serial child molester
Yet bishop apparently violated AG’s wishes by letting predator move to another state
Newly released documents show that high ranking Catholic officials had clear knowledge about a pedophile priest but kept moving him, even out of state. According to the records, a now-deceased Green Bay bishop was apparently ordered to get the molester into treatment, a demand that the bishop evidently ignored.
Letters, reports and a lengthy police report concerning the ex-priest, John Patrick Feeney, are being made public today by a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. They were obtained through an investigation relating to a civil child molestation lawsuit against Feeney and his former supervisors in the Green Bay diocese.
In 1983 letter, then Bishop Aloysius Wycislo wrote to Feeney “Time and time again I have been advised by civil servants, specifically the Attorney General, that unless the diocese promised to provide treatment for you, you would be prosecuted.”
In response to that demand, apparently Wycislo gave Feeney the option of getting treatment or finding an out-of-state bishop who would let Feeney work in parishes elsewhere. Some time later, Feeney moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he worked in at least one church.
Later, Feeney was assigned as a prison chaplain in Nevada, until he was fired for illegally sneaking drug paraphenalia, liquor, and women’s clothing to inmates, the records show.
“These records show what we’ve maintained all along: long ago the church hierarchy knew Feeney was a child molester but did little, if anything, to protect kids,” said attorney Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, who has handled hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases.
A 1973 letter from Wycislo orders Feeney, for unspecified reasons, to leave his De Pere parish in three months or less. Wycislo expresses his “deep regret” for the move.
Anderson says church officials knew of Feeney’s crimes in the early 1960s. A lawsuit against Feeney filed recently “includes a July 1974 letter from a doctor to establishing that Feeney's controls over sexual impulses may fail and cause indiscretions when he is under stress,” according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. That same letter, from Dr. Thomas Kelley, recommends therapy and treatment by a psychiatrist.
“These documents are very troubling,” said Peter Isely of Milwaukee of SNAP. “We can’t help but wonder what other church records – about Feeney or other predtors - may still be out there or may have been destroyed.”
Last week, the Green Bay bishop’s public relations person, Deacon Tim Reilly, hotly disputed allegations that church officials knowingly and recklessly transferred Feeney after learning of his crimes. Reilly called such accusations "utterly preposterous" and "balderdash."
The records were obtained through a lawsuit filed in Outagamie County Circuit Court recently by Troy and Todd Merryfield, two brothers who were molested by Feeney at St. Nicholas Church in Freedom in the late 1970s.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests