A few days ago, Jeff highlighted the fact Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser failed to protect children from a pedophile priest in 1979, when Prosser was serving as Outagamie County District Attorney.
The Greater Wisconsin Committee has a new TV ad out highlighting Prosser’s failure to act and protect children during his time as Outagamie County District Attorney.
While some would call the ad a “vicious smear;” the facts are the facts. As Outagamie County District Attorney, David Prosser told a mother he did not want to prosecute a Green Bay priest who had abused her sons because “it would be too hard on the boys.” In 2008, one of those victims, Troy Merryfield, said other children could have been spared abuse. “It wasn’t as if sexual abuse of a child wasn’t a felony back then,” he said. “The laws were on the books, and he (Prosser) should have prosecuted.” (AP 2/5/2008)
Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Merryfield reasserted his claim Prosser should have prosecuted father John Patrick Feeney, who went on to molest other children before finally being sent to prison in 2004:
“He (Prosser) knows damn well what happened and what was said,” said Troy Merryfield, one of the victims. “He dropped the ball” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/6/2008)
Additionally, there was another victim who came forward in 1978 and told Prosser he had been abused by Feeney. While this victim did not want to testify, Prosser’s knowledge that there were at least three victims should have convinced him to launch a full scale investigation. As is clear by the police investigation in 2002, good police work very quickly tracked down numerous victims of Feeney. Unfortunately, Prosser did not involve the police and instead agreed with the Bishop to simply send Feeney to another community, where he went on to molest more children.
While I understand that Troy Merryfield is now saying he’s fine with how David Prosser handled his case back in 1979, as recently as 2008 Merryfield himself said that prosecuting father Feeney in 1979 could have spared other children from being abused at Feeney’s hand. “It wasn’t as if sexual abuse of a child wasn’t a felony back then,” he said. “The laws were on the books, and he should have prosecuted.”
One thing is for certain: if David Prosser had done his job back in 1979, there’d be fewer victims of father John Patrick Feeney.