Belleville Diocese Settles Priest Abuse Lawsuits

By Brian Kelly
March 21, 2012

BELLEVILLE, Il (KMOX)- Three people who alleged they were abused by priests in the late 70′s and early 80′s have settled their lawsuits against the Belleville Diocese.

Two of the suits were filed against the Reverend Raymond Kownacki for abuse that allegedly took place at St. Theresa's Church in Salem, the other was against the Reverend Jerome Ratermann for abuse that allegedly took place at Saints Peter and Paul parish in Waterloo.

The victims' attorney, Mike Weilmuenster tells KMOX his clients were glad to avoid going to trial, "It's a roller-coaster ride for these victims. First of all having the courage to come forward and file a lawsuit and all that entails, and having their family investigated and those kind of things"

Weilmuenster says he can't release the amount of the settlements, but he calls them 'substantial', "I was thankful that the diocese made the correct decision, that they didn't want to try these cases and wanted to sit down with us and see if we can resolve them."

Kownacki, who was removed from the ministry in 1995 is named in at least one more pending lawsuit filed against the diocese. Ratermann was removed from ministry in 1993.

The diocese has not returned our call for comment.


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