A state district court jury last August accepted Graham’s claim that the action against him interfered with his contractual obligations, but said accuser Terrence Jerome Davis Jr. did not not intentionally inflicted emotional distress, as Graham’s counter-suit claimed.
In December, Sixth Judicial District Judge Theresa Neo dismissed a petition from Bryant to overturn the verdict or order a new trial.
A three-member appeal panel upheld Neo’s rulings in a decision filed on Monday. Judge Denise D. Reilly, writing for the Court of Appeal, noted that Davis’ 2016 lawsuit against Graham remains unresolved.
When Davis’ charges arose, the Diocese of Duluth conducted its own investigation, concluding that Graham had been “credibly charged.” He continues to receive his salary and benefits, but has been dismissed from his duties as a priest at St. Michael’s Church in the Lakeside neighborhood of Duluth.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Graham said he expects a decision in the coming months on his appeal to the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church in Rome to be reinstated in his post at St. Michael’s.
As he has done before, Graham insisted that he is still the pastor of St. Michael’s, “living in exile.”
“I expect Rome to change things,” he said.
Graham forwarded a copy of the appeals court decision to the News Tribune just before 5 p.m. Monday, and Michael Bryant, attorney for Waite Park, Minn., Representing Davis, could not be reached for comment after hours.
Bryant has said in the past that he and Davis stand by their accusation. Davis’ lawsuit was filed in May 2016, just days before the deadline to file claims in the diocese’s bankruptcy. He alleges Graham abused Davis on at least three occasions in the 1970s when Davis was around 15 years old.
Kyle Eller, spokesperson for the Diocese of Duluth, could not be reached either. He has said in the past that the decision to remove Graham from the prosecution “was complete”.
Graham, 69, has said he has every intention of returning to serve his ward.