Jury awards $8M in northern Minn. clergy sex abuse case

Published 9:59 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

ST. PAUL (AP) — A Ramsey County jury Wednesday awarded $8.1 million to a man who says he was molested by a priest when he was a boy.

William Weis, 52, alleged he was sexually abused by the Rev. James Fitzgerald at St. Catherine’s parish in Squaw Lake in 1978. The lawsuit centered on whether the Diocese of Duluth was negligent in how it supervised Fitzgerald, who died in 2009.

Weis was identified as Doe 30 in his lawsuit. The Associated Press normally does not identify possible victims of sex crimes, but one of his attorneys, Mike Finnegan, said Weis agreed to the use of his name.

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“It’s an important day for all clergy abuse survivors,” another of Weis’ attorneys, Jeff Anderson. “This verdict sends a message and a wake-up call to all communities and organizations, near and far, that the most important thing is the safety of our children.”

David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the organization hopes the verdict will encourage other victims to come forward.