Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2019

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Supreme Court to hear appeal against Catholic Church for molestation case

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court opens hearings in the new year with an appeal by the Catholic Church of a $500,000 judgment involving a priest who sexually molested a 13-year-old Las Vegas boy.

The jury verdict in Clark County in December 2012 is against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc. for failing to notify Nevada officials of the past history of abuses by now defrocked priest John Feeney.

The Supreme Court has denied previous pretrial motions by the church and allowed the case to go to trial.

Feeney faced numerous allegations in Green Bay and was placed on an indefinite leave of absence. He ended up in Las Vegas where he served at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. In the Nevada suit, he is accused of rubbing the genitals of the boy twice in 1984 and 1985. The suit was filed in 2008, 23 years after the incidents.

He was convicted of molesting two boys in Wisconsin in 2004 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released after eight years. But the Green Bay Diocese paid a $700,000 civil judgment.

Feeney left Wisconsin, re-located in California and then moved to Clark County where his family lived.

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, in its appeal, maintains it had no connection to Nevada and cannot be sued in this state. And it says the statute of limitation expired in time for the complaint to be brought,

The unnamed victim maintained in court documents that the church in Wisconsin failed to notify Nevada officials of Feeney’s pattern of misconduct. Feeney was still a priest of the dioceses of Green Bay when the acts occurred in Las Vegas, according to the court briefs.

The victim maintains he had a repressed memory of the incidents and that led to his drug use, alcoholism and sexual battery of his wife in later years.

The court will hear the oral arguments Jan. 6 in Carson City and take the case under submission.

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