Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Diocese Appeal of $5 Million Jury Verdict

On June 1, 2011, the state high court refused to hear an appeal of a $5 milliion jury verdict involving sexual abuse by a priest. in 2008, a St. Clair County jury awarded the sum to James Wisniewski after testimony established that he was sexually abused by a former priest, Raymond Kownacki. According to testimony at the trial, Wisniewski was sexually assualted when he was a 13 year old altar boy at St. Theresa's parish in Salem. The Diocese of Belleville had previously settled another sexual abuse case involving Kownacki for $1.2 million. Two other sexual abuse cases naming Kownacki are pending in St. Clair County Court. At trial, Wisniewski's lawyers introduced into evidence letters and documents that church officials knew that Kownacki had sexually assaulted minors but failed to call law enforcement and then repeatedly transferred the priest.