Diocese of Belleville
10:09 am
Fri January 14, 2011

Belleville Diocese's appeal of $5 million judgment fails

A southern Illinois appeals court has refused to overturn a $5 million jury award against the Diocese of Belleville to a former altar boy who claimed he was sexually abused by a priest.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the 5th District Appellate Court rejected the diocese's challenge of a 2008 verdict favoring James Wisniewski of Champaign. Wisniewski sued in 2002 in St. Clair County, alleging the Rev. Raymond Kownacki sexually abused him for five years in the 1970s beginning when he was 13.

The lawsuit also claimed the diocese concealed Kownacki's suspected behavior and quietly shuffled him among parishes.

Kownacki was removed from priestly duties in 1995. He has an unlisted home telephone number in Dupo and could not be reached by the Associated Press.