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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Victims urge Belleville bishop to cut his own salary

SNAP: He should personally pay part of $5 million to victim

Group to Braxton: “Donate some of your pay as gesture of sorrow”

Organization also blasts Braxton for keeping accused priest in ministry now

Victims renews their plea to church officials: “Disclose where predators are living”

“If you won’t house and supervise them, at least tell us where they are,” they beg

WHAT
At a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims with SNAP will publicly prod southern Illinois’ Catholic bishop to cut his own salary to help pay a $5 million jury verdict in a child sex abuse and cover up case.

They will also urge to Belleville’s prelate to
-- suspend an accused priest from the parish where he now works,
-- tell the public where ALL his pedophile priests are now living,
-- personally beg victims and witnesses to contact police and prosecutors,
-- visit each parish where Fr. Raymond Kownacki, a suspended serial predator priest, worked and
-- apologize for Kownacki’s crimes and for his own callous and expensive decision to keep appealing the jury finding against church officials that ignored or concealed his crimes.

WHEN
Thursday, May 25, 1:30 p.m.

WHERE
Outside the Belleville Diocese headquarters (‘chancery’), 222 South 2nd Street in Belleville

WHO
Members of a victims’ self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), and of FOSIL, the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity.

WHY
Yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court chose not to hear Bishop Edward Braxton’s appeal to overturn a jury verdict against the diocese in a child sex case. So barring an extremely unusual reversal by the court, a Champaign man who was repeatedly molested during childhood by a suspended serial predator priest, Fr. Raymond Kownacki, will receive more than $6 million.

In 2008, after a trial, a jury awarded Jim Wisniewski $5 million in damages, largely because of overwhelming evidence that several church officials ignored and concealed Kownacki’s horrific crimes. While Braxton has appealed, another $1.35 in interest has accrued.

SNAP wants Braxton to 1) donate a portion of his own salary to pay the settlement, 2) work harder to find others who saw, suspected or suffered Kownacki’s crimes, 3) urge them to contact police so that Kownacki might be prosecuted, and 4) permanently post on his website the names, addresses and work histories of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics, so kids might be safer.

SNAP also wants Braxton to admit that, months ago, he received a credible report of child sex abuse against a still-serving Belleville diocesan priest who is now in a parish. The cleric should be suspended immediately, SNAP says.

Three months ago, SNAP disclosed the allegation without naming the priest. (Because there is no criminal or civil action against the accused priest, SNAP is not publicly disclosing his name.) As best SNAP can tell, Braxton has taken no action since the accusation was disclosed.

SNAP also upset that Braxton claims the verdict will cause financial hardship for the diocese, but won’t let independent third parties look at church finances and assets. The organizations don’t believe Braxton’s claim, especially since witnesses testified that the diocese earns more than $1 million annually just on interest.

Wisniewski, and other Kownacki victims, are represented by attorney Mike Weilmuenster (618 257 2222).

CONTACT
Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688, 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com, David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Anne Harter of FOSIL 618-277-7594


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org