Jury Returns Verdict of $5Million Against Belleville Diocese

An Illinois jury has returned a $5,000,000 verdict against the Diocese of Belleville for fraudulently concealing that the Rev. Raymond Kownacki, a priest of the Diocese of Belleville, had abused James Wisniewski, 47, of Champaign. The damages include $2.4 million for compensatory losses including medical costs and emotional duress and $2.6 million for punitive damages.
According to trial testimony from the diocesan Review Board administrator, Margaret Mensen, the review board was prevented from seeing certain documents in Kownacki’s file. All the while, the Diocese of Belleville continued to transfer the pedophile priest to unsuspecting parishes. The parishes to which he was transferred were never informed of the priest’s past history of abuse. It wasn’t until 1995 when Kownacki was removed from ministry.