On Aug. 27, after an 8 day trial, a jury awarded James Wisniewski, 47, of Champaign, $5 million in damages and medical costs. Wisniewki alleged that the Rev. Raymond Kownacki sexually abused him for five years beginning when he was a 13 year old altar boy at St. Theresa's Church in Salem. Kownacki, 73, of Dupo, does not wish to comment. He remains a priest and receives retirement pay but cannot wear a priestly collar or perform any church duties.
Belleville attorneys Mike Weilmuenster and Steve Wigginton presented diocesan documents obtained during discovery that allegedly showed that former Belleville Bishop James Keleher and others knew that Kownacki was a child rapist. Nevertheless, he was apparently repeatedly reassigned to unsuspecting parishes. The Illinois Supreme Court refused to stop the trial on grounds that the lawsuit was barred by statute of limitations and other legal time limits. The damages include $2.4 million for compensatory damages including medical costs and $2.6 million in punitive damages.