SNAP Press Statements
SNAP Comments Regarding
Contempt Ruling Against Diocese

Survivors Network [Belleville IL]
April 7, 2004

SNAP calls on Bishop Gregory to stop using hardball legal tactics against abuse victims.

Statement by SNAP founder Barbara Blaine of Chicago

We are very distraught about today's New York Times story which discloses that America's top bishop has been found in contempt of court and fined for refusing to turn over documents about a known abusive priest.

The case involves Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville IL, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and one of his priests, Father Raymond Kownacki, who - has faced at least two prior and one current civil sex abuse lawsuits,

- was removed from ministry nine years ago, and

- has been accused of getting a teenaged girl pregnant and attempting to abort the fetus himself.

No matter how bishops or their lawyers try to 'spin' this, everyone knows what 'contempt of court' means. It means Bishop Gregory is defying a judge's order.

Sadly, Bishop Gregory now clearly joins the ranks of Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Egan and other church leaders who use any conceivable legal maneuver to avoid consequences for abuse cover ups.

A priest credibly accused of molesting at least three youngsters, and church officials who protected him, are hiding behind legal technicalities and trying to evade responsibility for horrendous crimes. This ruling is upsetting because it clearly shows that Bishop Gregory: - remains committed to secrecy, and - disregards the pledges he and his fellow bishops made in Dallas in 2002 to be more open about molestation cases.

Today, we urge Bishop Gregory to:

- go to parishes where Fr. Kownacki worked and prod victims and witnesses to contact police and prosecutors, so that he may be criminally charged,


- immediately stop using hardball legal tactics against abuse victims.


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