Victim of priest abuse denounces anti-Prosser ad referencing case

2011-03-26T11:00:00Z 2011-06-22T11:06:07Z Victim of priest abuse denounces anti-Prosser ad referencing caseDEE J. HALL | dhall@madison.com | 608-252-6132 madison.com

An abuse victim is criticizing the use of his case in an ad by a liberal group that attacks Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser for failing more than 30 years ago to prosecute a Catholic priest who was accused of sexually assaulting several boys.

Prosser is running for re-election April 5 against JoAnne Kloppenburg, a state assistant attorney general.

The ad by the Greater Wisconsin Committee takes Prosser, the former Outagamie County district attorney, to task for declining to prosecute the Rev. John Feeney in 1979.

One of the victims, Troy Merryfield, issued a statement Friday saying he supports Prosser's decision not to prosecute at the time.

In the past, Merryfield has been quoted as being critical of Prosser, but he insists those statements were taken out of context.

"I do not appreciate myself or my case being used for political advantage, especially in today's climate of dirty politics," said Merryfield, who now lives in Virginia.

Michelle McGrorty, executive director of the Greater Wisconsin Committee, said she stands by the ad, which is based on newspaper reports about the case.

In 2004, Feeney was convicted of assaulting Merryfield and his brother, Todd. He is serving a 15-year sentence.

Prosser's campaign issued a statement saying that while Prosser was "sympathetic to the victims, (he) believed the evidence wasn't strong enough to convict the accused." The statement said evidence discovered later — including additional alleged victims and records from the Diocese of Green Bay — allowed for a belated prosecution of Feeney.

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