New Lawsuit Filed Against Former Priest Kownacki
Posted on October 26, 2011 by Eugene Hollander
, sexual assault
A downstate Illinois man filed suit alleging that former Roman Catholic priest Raymond Kownacki sexually abused him as a boy and that the Belleville Diocese was partly to blame for hiding the priest's history. This is yet another lawsuit rocking various diocese for priest sexual abuse
The Plaintiff, identified as John Doe S.W., says Kownacki, 76, who lives in a south St. Louis retirement home, is still a threat.
Doe was described in the suit as Kownacki's longtime caretaker. His and Kownacki's families "became very close," the lawsuit says. But that relationship soured in 2009, when Kownacki gave Doe a list of names of people to contact on his behalf, including people who had sex abuse claims against Kownacki, the suit says. Doe refused, and he had "flashbacks" of his own sexual abuse, it says.
The Plaintiff claims that Kownacki sexually abused him from 1985 to 1987 at places that included St. Mary's Catholic Church in Valmeyer, where he served as an altar boy. Doe was about 16 then. Kownacki "coerced and threatened" him to keep him from telling anyone, the suit says.
Doe argues in the lawsuit that the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims doesn't apply to his case because he "recovered the memories" of Kownacki abusing him in 2009.
Kownacki, who was ordained in 1960, has a number of abuse claims against him, including a jury verdict that rose to a $6.3 million payout in August to James Wisniewski for sexual misconduct dating to the 1970s.
Kownacki was removed from the ministry in 1995 after abuse allegations began to surface. A former housekeeper accused him of raping, beating and performing an abortion on her in the 1970s. That case, which alleged that Kownacki was quietly shuffled among parishes, was dismissed after the state Supreme Court ruled that it exceeded the statute of limitations.
Even though Wisniewski filed his case about three decades after he was abused, the jury agreed that the diocese concealed and misrepresented facts about Kownacki, so the statute of limitations did not bar his claim. We anticipate that this argument will likely be argued in other clergy sex abuse cases, particularly those involving Kownacki.
Another case was filed against Kownacki in 2003 by a man identified as John Doe, who as a boy mowed the parish lawn at St. Theresa's Catholic Church and School in Salem, Ill., where Kownacki was pastor from 1979 to 1986. That case was settled in 2009 for $1.2 million.
At least two more cases are pending against the diocese accusing Kownacki of sexually abusing young boys who are now grown men.
According to the Belleville Diocese website, Kownacki's status is "administrative leave/retired."