GREEN BAY - The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, is hoping the victory in civil court by Todd and Troy Merryfield will open a door to what SNAP calls secret practices by the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.
"This court decision is opening up an opportunity and a requirement and an urgency to examine the pattern and practices that a jury in Outagamie County was able to look at," said Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director.
The group hand delivered a letter to Brown County District Attorney David Lasee Tuesday afternoon.
"I agreed to meet with them and discuss their concerns," said Lasee.
Isely says SNAP wants Lasee to investigate the Green Bay Diocese for systematically covering up for abusive priests and destroying documents proving alleged abuses. Lasee says he met with the group as a courtesy.
"I don't know whether the type of sweeping investigation they have set forth in their press release is something that's really within the purview of this office," said Lasee.
The diocese did not want to comment on camera Tuesday. Instead in an email to FOX 11 saying they feel there is nothing new in the request by SNAP to comment on.
Following the verdict Monday, the diocese continued to defend its position.
"We respect the deliberations and decision of the jury, however, we also respectfully disagree with their with their decisions... the jury's decision is contrary to what we believe to be the judgment and actions of Bishop Wycislo and how the Diocese of Green Bay reviewed John Feeney's actions prior to 1978," said Deacon Timothy Reilly.
Still Isely hopes the Merryfield verdict will be just the beginning of a fresh look into the inner workings of the diocese.
"The problem has not been solved, there are elements of that fraudulent behavior that are continuing today," said Isely.
Lasee did say he will handle any reports of abuse brought to his office, on a case by case basis.
As for the Merryfields' case, that is not over either.
Wednesday, the jury members in the trial will have the option to award the brothers more money, called punitive damages.
They are essentially a punishment against the diocese for the cover-up.
The jury can award the Merryfields double the amount they received in compensatory damages Monday.
That figure could be as high as $1.4 million.
Church officials are hoping to avoid more payments.
"I'm hoping that the punitive action just doesn't end up punishing the church of today for things that happened 40 years ago," said Reilly.
The Merryfields and their attorneys have said they are waiting to talk until after the trial is complete.
The punitive phase of the trial begins Wednesday morning and is expected to wrap up by the end of the day.
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