Thursday, September 30, 2010
Victims of clergy sex abuse Wednesday called on U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson, who once sat on the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay's finance board, to urge the church to release the names of priests accused of committing sexual offenses against children.
The demand comes two weeks after the diocese argued in a Nevada court that it should not be forced to provide those names as part of a lawsuit involving John Patrick Feeney, a now-defrocked priest who is serving a prison term for molesting Wisconsin boys.
Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered outside a Green Bay parish Wednesday afternoon distributing documents showing the diocese knew of Feeney's long history of abuse - a history documented in previous Journal Sentinel stories - and calling on Johnson to put pressure on the church to release names of all of its offender priests.
Johnson, who testified earlier this year against a state Senate bill that would have made it easier for victims to sue their abusers, no longer sits on the diocese's finance board, according to his campaign. He issued a statement Wednesday saying child sex abusers and those who shield them should be dealt with severely.
"I call on the Diocese of Green Bay to provide the utmost transparency in order to answer any lingering questions or doubt among victims of child abuse and those who seek to prevent child abuse in the future," the statement said.
The Nevada court has ordered the diocese to turn over the documents pertaining to priests believed to have abused children between 1969 and 1985, but said it may redact the names of the priests as well as the victims.
Victims say dozens of priests have been identified as having abused children in the Green Bay Diocese over the past several decades. Peter Mazzeo, the Nevada attorney representing the church, said that wasn't accurate but did not provide a number. He said only two or three priests were accused in the time period covered by the court order.