A jury in Scott County today (Monday) is considering the case of a Quad Cities man who charges he was molested by a former priest in Catholic Diocese of Davenport. Attorney Rand Wonio has been representing the diocese in the trial, and says while there have been several previous lawsuits, the church hasn’t had a jury trial on any of them.
Wonio says, “We’ve settled a number of these claims involving different priests, but this case is the first one to go to trial.” The plaintiff still lives in Davenport, and has charged that back in the late1950s and early 1960s he was abused by Father Thomas Feeney, who was pastor of a church in Davenport then. Wonio says Father Feeney died in 1981 and the suit wasn’t filed until 37 years after the statute of limitations would have expired on many kinds of criminal charge.
Wonio says one of the primary points of the defense is that “it’s very difficult to know what the truth of something was over forty years ago, and the statute of limitations should apply.” Church members and others crowded the courtroom for closing arguments in the case.
The man’s lawyer says he’s asking 744-thousand dollars in damages. Earlier the attorney said the diocese was content to have a jury hear this trial. The diocese has paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits and claims over past sexual abuse by clergy members, many of them now deceased.