Father John Patrick Feeney and his attorney in 2002. Photo courtesy of the Post-Crescent.

The day of my column about “Father O,” a name I gave my would-be boyhood molester and sexual abuser, my sister Debi sent me a text message. “I remember his name,” it said. I gave her a call.

“He was the brother of Joe Feeney,” she said. Joe, a handful of readers will recall, was a B-minus Irish tenor, a regular on “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

The priest’s name is John Patrick Feeney and, as it turns out, he’s a well-known molester of boys, the occasional girl, and at least one appliance installer.

Feeney’s creepiness throughout his overly long career as a priest is the stuff of a novel. A creepy novel. And a sad novel because of the overwhelming complicity of the Catholic Church and, particularly, of the Green Bay, Wisconsin diocese, which loosed Feeney on 14 different parishes in his first 14 years as an ordained priest, beginning in 1952. Feeney’s transfers later flung him farther away to parishes in San Diego and Las Vegas.

Those were days long before newspapers and district attorneys began seriously studying and prosecuting molesters, rapists and pedophiles in the church. Shuttling a priest accused of such actions was the common and quiet way for the church to shield itself from the onslaught of accusations that would decades later swamp Catholicism’s priests, bishops and the Vatican itself.

Feeney’s modus operandi throughout his life of abuse appears to have been consistent with his brief time spent with me in my house when I was a young teenager. He was accused of frequently offering to hear children’s confessions, where he often asked them several detailed questions about sex; he is accused of groping, exposing himself and otherwise engaging in inappropriate behavior including showering with young boys, molesting a girl during confession and exposing himself to a young man who was installing an air-conditioner in his office, according to bishopaccountability.org, a website established to document the abuse crisis in the church.

Every time his superiors heard about his transgressions, Feeney denied doing anything wrong, which is surely what he would have done, no doubt convincingly, had I told our parents about his actions. “I’m glad you didn’t tell them,” said Debi. “They would have laughed you out of the house.”

Again, I don’t mean to hop on the victims’ bandwagon with this story. It’s minor compared to what priests have been doing forever. I’m not scarred—or if I am, Feeney didn’t play much of a role in the scarring. And my experience was not as psychologically crippling as what Feeney did to other young Catholics over a span of several decades.

It was in Las Vegas in 1986, where Feeney, who left parish work briefly to serve as a chaplain at the Indian Springs Prison, was accused of bringing drug paraphernalia and women’s underwear into the men’s prison in exchange for sexual favors from prisoners. Feeney claimed he was set up, but, then, he always claimed he never did anything wrong.

Following that little escapade, Feeney was ordered to undergo an intense and thorough psychological and physical evaluation at St. Bernardine Clinic in Maryland.

“What is clear is that there have been recurrent episodes of inappropriate sexual behavior with children extending over many years,” a 1987 report from the clinic to the Diocese of Green Bay stated. “Both in actual practice and in terms of fantasy life there is ample data to support a diagnosis of ephebophilia, that is, sexual attraction to adolescent children.”

Later, the report states, “It is our view that Father Feeney, despite having a diagnosable sexual disorder, is untreatable. At this point he appears totally unable to acknowledge the existence of a sexual behavioral problem and is unmotivated to work on something he doesn’t believe exists.”

Finally, in 2004, Feeney’s proclivities caught up with him when he was convicted in Appleton, Wisconsin, for sexually assaulting two boys, brothers ages 12 and 14, 26 years earlier in 1978, according to an article in the Post-Crescent in Appleton.

In handing down a 15-year sentence, Judge Dennis Luebke told the 77-year-old Feeney, “I want to structure a sentence that will bring us to the end of your life.”

The sentence fell short. Feeney was defrocked by the Vatican in 2005. He was released from prison to a Wisconsin halfway house in November 2011.

Now 91, Feeney, a registered sex offender, was last believed to be living in Escondido, according to public records. His last known phone number has been disconnected.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.