A jury awarded $5 million to a former altar boy Wednesday, validating arguments by his attorneys that the Rev. Raymond Kownacki sexually abused him and other youths and that top officials of the Belleville Diocese covered it up for decades.(...)The jury 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 has stated he will not comment. He did not attend the trial.(...)Former Belleville Bishop Wilton Gregory testified Tuesday that reports were missing from a personnel file about Kownacki compiled in 1973 and 1982 that stated the priest raped a 16-year-old girl, aborted her fetus, molested twin boys he brought from Guatemala and abused Wisniewski and other unnamed boys at the parish in Salem. Gregory testified he was unaware of the reports when he turned Kownacki's personnel file over to the review board. The reports surfaced during the court-ordered legal discovery process.Gregory testified that if the allegations that parish officials knew about Kownacki's violent past and still reassigned him, as the evidence showed, then the diocese was responsible for what happened to Wisniewski.
He was called as a witness for the defense. Of course, that won't be the end of it.