Belleville Diocese Fined

By Jeff Small
KSDK [Belleville IL]
March 2, 2004

A Metro-east judge has fined the Belleville Diocese for contempt of court.

The two thousand dollar fine comes after judge Lloyd Cueto ordered the diocese to release mental health records of Father Raymond Kownacki. The retired priest is accused of sexually abusing two boys more than 20 years ago.

Civil cases are pending; meanwhile, the Belleville Diocese says the accused priests medical records are confidential.

The diocese position sparked a protest Sunday by members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Spokesperson David Clohessy says the group is upset by Bishop Wilton Gregory's decision to ignore a court ruling and keep documents secret about a priest suspected of abuse.

The Belleville Diocese removed Kownacki from active ministry in 1995. No word on his current location.

Area catholics say they are concerned over the serious allegations against the priest but say they have mixed views over the release of his private health records.

Rodney Lightle says the Diocese should abide by the court order and do what is right.

Sharon Smith disagrees, she says the records are and should be kept confidential.

The controversial circuit court ruling applies to records created before patient confidentiality laws went into effect in Illinois. The Belleville Diocese is expected to appeal the case.

Despite numerous attempts, we were unable to reach Bishop Gregory, who is both the head of the Belleville Diocese and the American Conference of Catholic Bishops.

We also made several unsuccessful attempts to reach an attorney or spokesperson for the diocese.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.