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  Peoria Diocese Sued; Man Alleges Abuse, Conspiracy
Diocese Says Suit Unfounded

By Scott Miller newsroom@pantagraph.com
Pantagraph [Peoria IL]
February 4, 2004

PEORIA -- A Piatt County man filed a civil sex abuse case in Peoria County Circuit Court on Tuesday against three priests and the Peoria Catholic Diocese.

Daniel Koenigs, 37, contends he was abused about 300 times, starting from when he was about 12 years old. Koenigs said most of the abuse took place in Henry County in three Peoria Diocese parishes.

Koenigs has accused Francis Engles, William Harbert, who is now deceased, and Gregory Plunkett of battery and child sexual abuse. He is accusing the Peoria Diocese of conspiracy.

The diocese took steps against the priests when the abuse allegations came to light in 1993 and offered Koenigs counseling, diocesan officials said Tuesday in a prepared statement.

Koenigs says he never would have filed a lawsuit if the Peoria Diocese had acknowledged the abuse in the past and showed remorse. "If they had just said, 'Look, we're sorry. We transferred Engels and Harbert to your parish, it was a mistake,'" Koenigs said.

Diocesan officials released a letter of apology Bishop Daniel Jenky wrote to Koenigs in 2002 and said the diocese offered him counseling on the advice of a review commission looking into abuse allegations.

Diocese officials said then-Bishop John Myers removed Harbert and Engles from public ministry when the allegations against them surfaced in 1993, and both Myers and Jenky refused to reinstate them.

Koenigs also rejected counseling and asked only for money, according to the diocese's statement.

"Dan Koenigs, himself, has stated that the diocese could not have known (about any sexual abuse) until he came forward in 1993," the diocese said in its news release. "Clearly, the diocese cannot be held financially liable for things about which it had no knowledge."

Plunkett, who recently was arrested on charges of abusing an Aledo child, was among eight priests Jenky ordered to cease all functions as a Catholic priest in May 2002. Diocese officials said they were aware only of a one-time incident that occurred before Plunkett entered the seminary and joined the diocese.

Koenigs says he talked with Bishop John Myers, Jenky's predecessor, about the abuse. Myers lied to him, he said.

"I spoke with Bishop Myers in October of 1993, and he assured me that neither of the men, Francis Engles or Bill Harbert, would be reinstated into the Peoria Diocese and that I should get well," said Koenigs.

But Koenigs said Engles was reinstated into the diocese. The diocese denied that.

 
 

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