Southern Illinois Priest Defrocked

Feb 8, 2013

A Roman Catholic priest whose decades-old molestation of a former altar boy in southern Illinois led to a $6.3 million payout has been kicked out of the priesthood by the Pope.

Diocese of Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton says 78-year-old Raymond Kownacki has been defrocked by papal decree.  Braxton says the action is for the good of the church.


In 2002, James Wisniewski  sued, alleging Kownacki sexually abused him dozens of times during the 1970’s when he was an altar boy at St. Theresa’s in Salem.  The lawsuit also claimed the diocese hid the former priest’s behavior by shuffling him among parishes.

Kownacki is now living in a St. Louis-area nursing home and has refused media requests for interviews. He has not been charged criminally.   Kownacki's misdeeds resulted in a $5 million jury award against the diocese in 2008. That payout grew to $6.3 million to reflect interest that accrued while the diocese appealed.