A jury awarded $5 million to James Wisniewski, a former altar boy on Wednesday, August 27, in a widely watched sexual abuse trial. Rev. Raymond Kownacki was convicted of sexually abusing Wisniewski and other youths and top officials of the Belleville Diocese were accused of covering up the abuse for decades.
Wisniewski, 47, of Champaign, Illinois, was awarded damages in a civil trial resulting from a lawsuit he brought in 2002. During that trial it was alleged that when Wisniewski was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Theresa’s Parish in Salem, Illinois in 1973, when his pastor, Kownacki, began repeated sexual abuse that took place over five years.
The damages to Wisniewski include $2.4 million for compensatory losses including medical costs and emotional duress and $2.6 million for punitive damages. According to the Belleville News Democrat, the verdict came after nearly five hours of deliberations.
Additionally, the jury said that it found that the diocese had “fraudulently concealed” evidence that Kownacki, 73, of Dupo, was known by church leaders from reports as early as 1973 to be a violent rapist and child sex offender but kept reassigning him to parishes without warning the public.
Kownacki did not attend the trial.
Source: Associated Press, Belleville News Democrat
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