Belleville Bishop finally surrenders

An 11-year battle ended Wednesday when sex-abuse victim James Wisniewski was handed two checks totaling $6.3 million.

Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton finally gave in after a jury found the diocese guilty of fraudulent concealment in the case of serial abuser Raymond Kownacki, a diocesan priest accused of molesting children and youth in more than five parishes during the '60s, '70s and '80s.

During that time at least three Belleville bishops not only moved the priest around but publicly recommended him to parishioners as someone fully worthy of their trust.

Braxton appealed the court decision to the Illinois appellate court and twice to the state supreme court to no avail, while interest on the original award to Wisniewski rose at a daily rate to the $6.3 million.

Braxton was heavily criticized for dragging the case out on arguments he was bound to lose. Diocesan insurance is expected to cover about $1.5 million of the award, but many Belleville priests and laity have expressed fear the diocese may be on the road to bankruptcy.

See full story here.

For background on what this is all about, see my July 25 NCR story: Braxton battles on against abuse suit


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