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Predator priest John Feeney released from prison; yet most known Green Bay sex offenders remain unidentified

November 11, 2011

November 11, 2011

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director 

CONTACT: 414.429.7259 

The release from prison, into the Green Bay area, of serial priest child molester John Feeney, means that state officials are confident they can watch his movements so that he poses no risk to the community. At least Feeney has faced some kind of justice: arrest, prosecution, public exposure, and now, hopefully, diligent and expert state supervision by authorities.

What of the other 50 members of the clergy that the Green Bay diocese has admitted were reported to bishops over the last several decades who were known to have sexually assaulted children or minors?

That alarming number, submitted by the diocese in 2004, to a national study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the Catholic church includes 15 alleged offenders from the Norbertine religious order headquartered in De Pere. No one knows the names, offense histories, current locations, or case dispositions of any of these offenders.

Even more disturbing, is that the Green Bay diocese used the Feeney case, not to finally establish transparency and accountability for child sex crimes, but to systematically destroy the records at the diocese of priests who were reported to have assaulted children, including criminal evidence obtained from secret church investigations and evidence of fraud that church officials withheld from authorities and the public (

These offenders have never faced real criminal and civil justice, like Feeney, because their crimes were covered up by church officials. Instead of prison, public notification, criminal justice supervision, and placement on the state’s sex offender registry, the harshest punishment for a cleric under church law for raping or sexually assaulting a child is, literally, “prayer and penance.”

That is clearly dangerous and unacceptable. The dual justice system that the church has maintained for centuries around the world for sex crimes by clergy must be systematically exposed and dismantled. It begins with the obvious: the immediate release and creation of a public registry by the diocese of Green Bay of all known clergy with substantiated and credible reports of sexual assault.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is  

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