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Another Priest Abuse Claim in So. Illinois

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) - The Belleville Diocese faces another lawsuit alleging its disgraced former priest Raymond Kownacki sexually abused a boy. The John Doe plaintiff claims he repressed the memories of his abuse until he became Kownacki's caretaker more than 20 years later.

John Doe S. W. claims Kownacki molested him from 1985 to 1987, when Doe was about 16.

"Specifically, in 2009, defendant Kownacki handed plaintiff a list of names to contact on his behalf," according to the complaint in St. Clair County Court. "Plaintiff recognized that the list of names included people involved in lawsuits against Kownacki for sexual abuse. Plaintiff gave Kownacki the list back and informed him that he could not contact these people. At this time, the memories of the abuse begin to return in flashbacks."

Doe claims the diocese is partly to blame because it hid Kownacki's history. Doe says the diocese had received complaints about Kownacki's actions in Guatemala, before he even came to the Belleville area.

But Doe says the diocese appointed Kownacki a priest in St. Francisville, Ill., and to the St. Martin of Tours parish in Washington Park, Ill., in 1971.

"While defendant Kownacki worked at St. Martin of Tours, the defendant diocese received detailed information that defendant Kownacki had sexual contact and had sexually abused a minor female at St. Francisville," the complaint states. "Specifically, the defendant diocese learned that defendant Kownacki abused alcohol and forced alcohol upon the minor on several occasions in conjunction with sexual contact and abuse. The defendant diocese was informed that the minor had become pregnant possibly by defendant Kownacki. Defendant Kownacki physically assaulted her by inserting his hand into her vagina and wrenching and squeezing her uterus in order to abort the minor female's fetus."

Doe claims the diocese repeatedly moved Kownacki, who left a trail of sexually abused children in his wake.

The diocese eventually removed Kownacki as a priest in January 1995, due in large part to the information it had received on Kownacki in the 1970s, the complaint states.

Doe seeks damages from the diocese and Kownacki for sexual abuse, fraud, negligent supervision, negligent retention, failure to warn, nondisclosure and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is represented by Jeffrey Anderson of Anderson & Associates in St. Paul, Minn.

Kownacki, now 76, lives in a St. Louis retirement home. He has been the subject of multiple lawsuits filed against the diocese. In August, a jury awarded $6.3 million to a man who claimed Kownacki sexually abused him. A similar case against Kownacki and the diocese was settled for $1.2 million in 2009. At least two other similar lawsuits are pending against the diocese and Kownacki.

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