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Fraud trial to begin against Green Bay diocese

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — Jury selection is expected to begin Monday in a fraud trial against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, after an Outagamie County judge denied the diocese’s latest attempt to have the case dismissed.

Two brothers, Troy and Todd Merryfield, sued the diocese in 2008, alleging it committed fraud by repeatedly transferring priest John Feeney without telling parishioners about Feeney’s history of abuse.

The diocese has claimed it had no knowledge of abuse, and also said the Merryfields have not presented enough evidence to support their claim.

WLUK-TV reported that Judge Nancy Krueger denied the diocese’s latest request to have the case dismissed.

“What the Diocese knew is a question of material fact subject to the reasonable inferences the jury draws from the admissible evidence, as is the question of whether the Diocese made representations with the intent to defraud. Therefore, summary judgment is not appropriate at this time,” Krueger wrote in a nine-page decision.

“The jury is capable of weighing the evidence and determining civil liability of the Diocese without analyzing religious doctrine or beliefs of Diocese members,” she added.

The Merryfields could testify in the case, which is expected to last two weeks. Former Green Bay bishop, Cardinal Adam Maida — now retired in Detroit — is listed as a potential witness, as are Bishop David Ricken and Bishop Robert Morneau.

Feeney was convicted in 2004 of assaulting the brothers when Feeney was stationed at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Freedom in 1978.

Feeney has been defrocked and was recently released from prison.

Information from: WLUK-TV,

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