Diocese Formerly Headed by Archbishop Gregory Withheld Abuse Evidence

Catholic World News

August 11, 2008

St. Louis, Aug. 11, 2008 ( - A former president of the US bishops' conference has been accused of withholding evidence about an abusive priest from a review board.

In an Illinois court case, Margaret Mensen-- who headed a board studying clerical abuse in the Belleville diocese-- has testified that former Bishop Wilton Gregory did not provide full records of priests who had been accused of molesting young people. In a sworn deposition Mensen said that her panel would have investigated rape charges against Father Raymond Kownacki, but those charges were never disclosed to the board.

Kownacki, who was removed from ministry in 1995, is now being sued by a former altar boy who says the priest molested him in the 1970s. The Belleville diocese is asking to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations has lapsed. The court could allow the case to proceed if it finds that the diocese was guilty of "fraudulent concealment" of evidence in the case.

Msgr. James Margason, who was vicar general for the Belleville diocese under then-Bishop Gregory, has conceded that he did not supply full information about the charges against Kownacki to the review board.

Bishop Gregory served in Belleville from 1994 to 2004, when he was promoted to become Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia. He was the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004, leading the episcopal conference through the peak years of the sex-abuse scandal.


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