Rev. John Patrick Feeney


Summary of Case: A Green Bay diocesan priest, Feeney has been accused of sexually abusing many children, male and female, throughout his career. At least 12 have come forward. He was moved among 18 parishes in the diocese within 30 years. In 1978 the parents of two young teenage brothers reported to diocesan officials and police that Feeney had molested their boys. The parents dropped the charges when the diocese told them the problem would be taken care of. In 1979 two mothers went to law enforcement officials with complaints about Feeney, but were persuaded by a prosecutor not to press charges. In 1983 Green Bay bishop Wycislo told Feeney that unless he found a job in another diocese he would face going to treatment, or prosecution. Feeney found work as a priest in San Diego, CA and Las Vegas, NV parishes, and in Nevada prisons. He was removed from ministry in 1986 after being accused of smuggling drug paraphernalia and women's underwear into a Nevada prison in exchange for sex with prisoners. Feeney was arrested in 2002 for the 1978 sexual assaults of the two young brothers in Wisconsin. He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Feeney was defrocked by the Vatican in 2005. He was released from prison to a Wisconsin halfway house in Nov. 2011, and is a registered sex offender.

Ordained
: 1952


   

Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes

1952

Green Bay bishop was Stanislaus Vincent Bona (1945-1967)

1954 St. Joseph's Green Bay WI 3/3 St. Joseph's had a school with 456-506 boys and 458-508 girls.
Jan. 1954     Kewaunee WI pastor This is per news reports.
1954 1955 Patronage of St. Joseph Sturgeon Bay WI 2/2 Patronage of St. Joseph had a school with 200 boys and 198 girls.
1955 1956 St. Rose's Clintonville WI 2/2 St. Rose's had a school with 134 boys and 128 girls.
1956 1958 St. Peter's

Oshkosh

 

WI 3/3 St. Peter's had a grade and junior high school with 171-223 boys and 184-277 girls.
Sept. 1958 1961 Holy Redeemer

Two Rivers

Feeney was accused of inappropriately touching an underage girl during confession in 1958. He denied the allegation.

WI 2/2 Holy Redeemer had a school wtih 180-228 boys and 183-226 girls.
Sept. 1961 1963 St. Theresa's

Appleton

A Sept. 1983 report from the diocese states there had been "Widespread accusations, allegations and rumors regarding sexual improprieties on the part of Father Feeney from previous parish assignments: St. Therese, Appleton; Freedom; Suamico; De Pere; Chilton, etc."

WI 2/3 St. Theresa's had a school with 575-588 boys and 558-575 girls.
Sept. 1963 1965 Immaculate Conception (St. Mary's)

Chilton

A Sept. 1983 report from the diocese states there had been "Widespread accusations, allegations and rumors regarding sexual improprieties on the part of Father Feeney from previous parish assignments: St. Therese, Appleton; Freedom; Suamico; De Pere; Chilton, etc."

WI 3/3 Immaculate Conception had a school with 255-241 boys and 252-262 girls.
Sept.1963 1965 St. Elizabeth's Kloten WI   St. Elizabeth's was a mission of Immaculate Conception in Chilton.
Sept. 1965     Clark's Mills WI assistant pastor Here on a temporary assignment, per news reports.
Oct. 1965 1966 SS. Edward and Isidore's Flintville WI 2/2  
Jan. 1966   St. Ann's Francis Creek/Algona WI   Here on a temporary assignment, per news reports.
April 1966   Holy Name Maplewood WI assistant pastor Here on a temporary assignment, per news reports.
June 1966   St. Joseph's Wautoma WI assistant pastor Here on a temporary assignment, per news reports.

Aug. 1966

Bona was succeeded by Aloysius John Wycislo (1968-1983)

1969 Holy Family

Elcho

Feeney was accused in 2002 of sodomizing a 14 year-old boy in 1969.

In a 2004 lawsuit Feeney was accused of molesting a 15 year-old boy in 1967 in southern California, where he was visiting relatives.

WI 1/1  
Aug. 1966 1969 St. Mary's Pickerel WI   St. Mary's was a mission of Holy Family in Elcho.
June 1969 1973 St. Francis Xavier's

De Pere

A Sept. 1983 report from the diocese states there had been "Widespread accusations, allegations and rumors regarding sexual improprieties on the part of Father Feeney from previous parish assignments: St. Therese, Appleton; Freedom; Suamico; De Pere; Chilton, etc."

In a May 2012 civil trial, Msgr. Paul Koszarek testified that he heard rumors in the early 1970s that Feeney was swimming nude and showering with young boys. Kosarek was an episcopal vicar at the time.

WI 1/3, 1/2

St. Francis Xavier's had a school with 221-370 boys and 226-374 girls. It was combined with St. Mary's in 1971.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kosarek did not investigate or report the rumors.

June 1973 1976 St. Benedict's

Suamico

A Sept. 1983 report from the diocese states there had been "Widespread accusations, allegations and rumors regarding sexual improprieties on the part of Father Feeney from previous parish assignments: St. Therese, Appleton; Freedom; Suamico; De Pere; Chilton, etc."

At a 2012 civil trial, a priest testified that Feeney inappropriately touched two teenage girls at a church retreat, for which he was sent to mental health counseling in the early 1970s.

WI 1/1 A 1974 letter from a doctor to Feeney stated that Feeney's controls over his sexual impulses may fail under stress. Feeney wrote to the bishop, "I was sorry to learn that you have received more complaints about me."
June 1973 1976 St. Pius

Little Suamico WI   This was a mission of St. Benedict's in Suamico.
June 1976 1979 St. Nicholas'

Freedom

Feeney was accused in 1978 of inappropriate behavior with two brothers, ages 12 and 14. Their parents filed a complaint with the diocese and with the police in July of that year, saying Feeney "snapped" the boys' pajama bottoms and asked them questions about their penises. The parents dropped the charges when they were told by the diocese the problem would be taken care of. The boys testified at trial in 2004. The older brother said Feeney, who was visiting the family in their home, came to his bedroom, put his hand on the boy's crotch, asked if the boy knew what the priest was touching, and told him to spell "penis". Feeney is said to have also asked the boy if he had girlfriends. He then put his put his hand underneath the boy's pajama top, proceeded to rub and work his way down to the boy's pajama pants. The boy shook him off and rolled away. The priest left the room, then returned and pinched the boy's butt. In addition to similar behavior toward the younger, 12 year-old, boy in his bedroom that night, the younger brother reported that Feeney had sexually assaulted him during confesson. Feeney is said to have asked the boy if he had girlfriends, then grabbed the boy's crotch and penis.

WI 1/1

St. Nicholas' had a school with 374-282 students.

Bishop Wycislo told Feeney in a letter that diocesan officials decided after an investigation that Feeney could stay in Freedom if he underwent counseling. Wycislo told Feeney to "stay away from young people".

Jan. 1979 Nov. 1983 St. Mary of the Seven Dolors

Stockbridge

Complaints surfaced that Feeney inappropriately touched a minor and that he took showers with young boys at a high school. A young man accused Feeney in July 1987 of sexually assaulting him when he was a high school student in 1978 or 1979 until 1981. Feeney denied the allegations.

WI 1/1

St. Mary's had a school with 152-92 students.

Wycislo transferred Feeney to this parish, warning "if there is any repetition of past problems" and "in the event a trial were to eventuate because of recent allegations against you, you will immediately be suspended and deprived of the faculties of this diocese."

Two mothers from St. Nicholas' in Freedom went to law enforcement officials in 1979 when they learned that Feeney was transferred to St. Mary's rather than being removed from ministry, as church officials had promised. A 2002 complaint stated that the prosecutor at the time persuaded them not to press charges, telling them it would be too traumatizing for the boys.

In Oct. 1983 Wycislo told Feeney he could no longer work in the Green Bay diocese, and that he had three months to find a job in another diocese. Wycislo said he would write a letter of support. The bishop wrote further that If Feeney didn't find a job in three months, he would have to go to treatment or face prosecution.

Late 1983

San Diego bishop was Leo Thomas Maher (1969-1990)

    San Diego CA  

This assignment is per news reports.

Feeney served for a short time at an unspecified San Diego parish.

1984

Reno bishop was Norman Francis McFarland (1976-1986)

1986? On Duty Outside the Diocese/St. Francis de Sales

Las Vegas

Feeney is alleged in a Jan. 2008 lawsuit to have molested a 13 year-old boy, who was a St. Francis de Sales school student, in 1984 and 1985. His accuser said Feeney would take him and his friends to football games and that after a game, at the boy's home, Feeney sat next to the boy on a couch, put his arm around the boy, and asked if their t.v. had the Playboy channel. Feeney is said to have then put one hand under the boy's shirt, and the other on the boy's genitals under his pants.

NV pastor

St. Francis de Sales had a school with 263 students.

In the 1986 Directory Feeney is indexed but is not listed at St. Francis de Sales in the Reno diocesan pages.

St. Francis' school principal, Msgr. LaVoy, heard that the boy who said Feeney molested him at home in front of the t.v. told his friends Feeney was gay. LaVoy is said to have called the boy into his office, where the boy told LaVoy what Feeney had done to him. LaVoy's response is said to have been that the boy should be "ashamed of himself". He met with the boy's father to determine if the boy- who LaVoy said caused trouble- would be allowed to stay at St. Francis. The boy was allowed to stay.

1984 1986 Christ of the Desert Amargosa Valley NV   This was a mission of St. Francis de Sales in Las Vegas.
1984 1986 Juvenile Detention Centers   NV    
1984 1986 Prison Indian Springs NV chaplain Feeney was accused in 1986 of smuggling drug paraphernalia and women's underwear into the prison in exchange for sexual favors from prisoners. Feeney claimed he was set up.

1986

Green Bay bishop was Adam Joseph Maida (1983-1990)

1990 Absent on Sick Leave      

Green Bay bishop Maida removed Feeney from ministry in 1986.

A Jan. 1987 report by the St. Bernardine Clinic in MD determined that Feeney had a diagnosable sexual disorder that was not treatable. He spent much of 1989 in treatment at the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, NM.

1990

Maida was succeeded by Robert Joseph Banks (1990-2003)

Los Angeles archbishop was Roger Michael Mahony (1985-2011)

2002 Retired Los Angeles CA  

Address given is 3333 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles.

Feeney was arrested in Sept. 2002 at his L.A. home and charged with sexually assaulting a 12 year-old boy during confession in the 1970s in Wisconsin, as well as the attempted sexual assaults of the same boy and his 14 year-old brother.

2002

David Allen Zubik replaced Banks (2003-2007)

2004 Retired Green Bay WI  

Address given is a Green Bay P.O. Box.

Feeney was found guilty in Feb. 2004 of sexually assaulting the two brothers in 1978.

There were at least 10 other Feeney accusers which the trial's prosecutor stated may be just a fraction of Feeney victims. They were unable to pursue prosecution due to the statute of limitations. The brothers were able to press charges because of a loophole in the statute.

2004 Nov. 2011 Prison   WI inmate

Feeney was sentenced in 2004 to 15 years in prison. An appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court was denied in 2006. He was defrocked by the Vatican in 2005.

The brothers whose case resulted in Feeney's conviction filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against the Green Bay diocese, alleging the diocese covered up years of abuse by Feeney and lied to parishioners about what they knew about Feeney's history of sexually abusing children. The suit contended that the diocese knew about Feeney's abusive behavior in the early 1960s.

Nov. 2011   Halfway House Appleton WI   Feeney was released from prison in Nov. 2011 to an Appleton, Wisconsin halfway house. He was to be on parole for the remainder of his sentence, and is a registered sex offender.
        MO  

Feeney was known in May 2012 to be living in Missouri.

In May 2012 the Green Bay diocese was found liable in a civil lawsuit of concealing Feeney's history of child sexual abuse. The diocese challenged the ruling and was granted a new trial, scheduled for May 2013.

Another civil case went to trial in Oct. 2012 in Las Vegas.

Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1953-2005)

Diocese Moved Priests When Allegations Arose, By Steve Wideman, Post-Crescent, May 31, 2002
Public Records Reveal Pattern by Diocese, By Steve Wideman, Post-Crescent, May 31, 2002
Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Priest, By Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 15, 2002
Accused Wisconsin Priest Is Arrested in L.A., Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2002
Feeney's Defense 'Intrigues' Court, By John Lee, Post-Crescent, October 9, 2002
Second Alleged Victim Testifies, By Dan Wilson, Post-Crescent, February 25, 2004
Feeney Verdict: Guilty, By Dan Wilson, Post-Crescent, February 27, 2004
Feeney Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison, By Dan Wilson, Post-Crescent, April 30, 2004
Diocese Looks to Defrock Ex-Priest, By Dan Wilson, Post-Crescent, January 9, 2005
Vatican Defrocks Convicted Green Bay Priest, Associated Press State & Local Wire, August 8, 2005
Wisconsin Supreme Court Won't Review Ex-Priest's Case, The Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune [Wisconsin], April 24, 2006
Victim of Former Freedom Priest Among Recipients in California Settlement, By Dan Wilson, Appleton Post-Crescent, July 17, 2007
Abuse Victims Renew Efforts for Civil Relief, By Dan Wilson, Appleton Post-Crescent, August 5, 2007
Clergy Abuse Group to Sue Green Bay Diocese, Associated Press in WKBT, January 2, 2008
Diocese Responds to Civil Action, Diocese of Green Bay, January 2, 2008
Lawsuit Claims Green Bay Diocese Knew Of, Covered up Abuse: Sex Assault by Catholic Priest Could Have Been Avoided, Suit Says,By Andy Nelesen, Green Bay Press-Gazette, January 3, 2008
Merryfields Dropped Charges in 1970s, By Natalie Arnold, WBAY-TV - ABC2, January 3, 2008
Green Bay Diocese Calls Sex Abuse Claim 'Preposterous', By Corinthia McCoy, Appleton Post, January 5, 2008
Complaint in John Doe 119 V. Roman Catholic Bishop of Las Vegas, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, and Fr. James Patrick Feeney, Clark County District Court, January 15, 2008
Group Works for Justice for Victims of Abuse, By Joe Rossiter, Detroit Free Press, January 18, 2008
Former Catholic Priest John Patrick Feeney Released after Serving 8 Years for Sexually Assaulting Children, By Jim Collar,
Post-Crescent, November 11, 2011
Sex Abuse Civil Suit against Green Bay Diocese Heads to Trial, By Jim Collar, Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 14, 2012
Jury Selected in Green Bay Roman Catholic Diocese Trial, By Jim Collar, The Post-Crescent, May 15, 2012
Priests Testify As Witnesses in Sexual Misconduct Trial, By Jessie Van Berkel, The Press-Gazette, May 15, 2012
Assault Victim Says Faith Was Shaken, By Jim Collar, The Post-Crescent, May 16, 2012
Opening Statements Heard in Trial against Green Bay Diocese, By Tony Ullrich, WBAY, May 16, 2012
Psychologist Discusses Merryfields, Fox 11, May 16, 2012
Attorneys Present Their Defense in Gb Catholic Diocese Civil Fraud Case, WTAQ, May 17, 2012
Psychologist Testifies on Diocese's Behalf, By Jim Collar, The Post-Crescent, May 18, 2012
Green Bay Diocese Liable for Molestation Cover-up, By Jim Collar, Post-Crescent, May 21, 2012
Jury to Set Damages in Abuse Case, By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 22, 2012
Brothers Drop Punitive Damages against Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, By Jim Collar, The Post-Crescent, May 23, 2012
Brothers Who Won Case against Green Bay Diocese Withdraw Bid for Punitive Damages, By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 23, 2012
Diocese Ruling Spurs Inquiry Request, By Paul Srubas, Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 23, 2012
Diocese Asks for New Trial in Feeney Case, By Jim Collar, The Post-Crescent, June 14, 2012
Diocese Seeks Relief from Clergy Sex Abuse Verdict, By Jim Collar, Gannett Wisconsin Media, July 13, 2012
Church Argues for New Trial or Dismissal in Priest Sex Abuse Case, By Jim Collar, The Post-Crescent, July 17, 2012
Green Bay Diocese Seeks to Overturn $700,000 Sex Abuse Verdict, By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 17, 2012
Judge Tosses $700k Clergy Abuse Verdict, Minnesota Public Radio, July 19, 2012
Green Bay Catholic Diocese Granted New Trial in Sex Abuse Case, By Jim Collar, Green Bay Press-Gazette, July 19, 2012
Merryfields Suit against Gb Catholic Diocese Won't Be Dismissed, WTAQ, August 2, 2012
New Trial Date Set in Green Bay Diocese Civil Fraud Case, By Mike Conroy, NBC 26, September 6, 2012
Lawsuit against Diocese to Be Re-Tried in May, The Post-Crescent, September 7, 2012
Second Landmark Fraud Trial against Green Bay Diocese Underway in Nevada, SNAP Wisconsin, October 11, 2012
Case against Green Bay Diocese under Way in Nevada, Green Bay Press-Gazette, October 12, 2012


Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Feeney's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Oct. 20, 2012