An eastern Iowa jury has voted to award a Bettendorf man two million dollars for the abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle — who was a priest — and the years of depression that followed. Jim Wells filed a civil lawsuit against his uncle, Jim Janssen, for abuse Wells said occurred 40 years ago when he was a boy and Janssen was a priest. Wells spoke with reporters after the jury handed down its verdict. “I’m very happy,” Wells said. “I’d just like to say that my uncle is very disturbed.” The jury’s two-million dollar award is to cover wage losses, pain and suffering as well as Wells’ medical expenses. During the trial, Janssen, the uncle who is a defrocked priest, admitted he abused his nephew one day, then went back on the witness stand a day later and recanted. “He is so disturbed, he is so narcissistic that he could never admit to being wrong at anything,” Wells says. Juror Cindy Fisher says Janssen’s flip-flopping on the witness stand was a turning point in the trial. “I knew he was lying,” Fisher says. Wells intends to change his last name to Justice so he’ll be known as Jim Justice from now on. He hopes today’s verdict sends a message to the Catholic Church. “It took me years to get this far and I was able to do it for the victims who could not,” Wells, soon to be known as Justice, said.
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