- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Jury awards $8M in northern Minnesota clergy sex abuse case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Ramsey County jury Wednesday awarded $8.1 million to a man who says he was molested by a priest in northern Minnesota 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.

“It’s an important day for all clergy abuse survivors,” another of Weis’ attorneys, Jeff Anderson, said in a statement. “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.

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Jury awards $8M in northern Minnesota clergy sex abuse case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Ramsey County jury has awarded more than $8 million to a man who says he was molested by a priest in northern Minnesota when he was a boy.

Fifty-two-year-old William Weis (weyes) 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.

The Associated Press normally does not identify possible victims of sex crimes, but his attorney says Weis agreed to the use of his name.

Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1Opgmh1https://bit.ly/1Opgmh1 ) reports the jury found the diocese was 60 percent at fault. Fitzgerald’s order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was found to be 40 percent at fault.

Attorneys for the diocese and the Oblates declined comment.

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Minnesota misses 2020 game, plans future championship bids

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s bid committee for the national championship game in college football will continue pursuing the event, after missing out on the latest awards.

The College Football Playoff Group announced Wednesday that the 2018 game will go to Atlanta, the 2019 game will be held in Northern California and the 2020 site will be New Orleans.

Minnesota’s corporate boosters and public officials bid on the 2020 game for the Vikings stadium set to open next year. The CFP playoff management committee cited concern about “community fatigue” with Minnesota hosting the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 Final Four for college basketball.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen said the committee will pursue the games for 2021 and beyond, when the next series of championship games are open for bidding.

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Panel cautions against adding pain to medical marijuana law

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - An advisory panel cautioned Wednesday against expanding Minnesota’s medical marijuana program to include patients suffering chronic pain starting next year.

The recommendation from the panel’s medical experts to Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger is not a final say - it’s up to Ehlinger to make the decision by Jan. 1. But five of eight panel members voted against the possible expansion, arguing that there’s limited evidence of marijuana’s efficacy in treating pain and noting physicians’ reluctance to using the drug as a treatment.

“The recommendations reflect a range of views on the topic, as well as the desire for more clinical evidence regarding potential benefits and risks. While the recommendations are not binding, they are part of a set of information I will review,” Ehlinger said in a statement.

Adding intractable pain would drastically change Minnesota’s new medical marijuana program. Enrollment has been low since sales began this summer, exacerbating high costs for the drugs and scaring off some patients. State officials believe that adding pain could double or triple the number of customers.

If Ehlinger decides to expand the program, patients suffering intractable pain - defined in state law as pain that can’t otherwise be treated or cured - could start buying medical marijuana in August. The Legislature could also vote to reverse the commissioner’s decision.

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