Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Friday, August 5, 2011

Clergy sex victim to get $6.3 million; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])

It’s crucial to remember that no amount of money can restore Jim’s horrific childhood betrayal caused by Fr. Kownacki and Jim’s tremendous adult suffering caused by Belleville Catholic church officials. It never should have come to this.

Decades ago, Catholic figures could and should have turned Fr. Kownacki over to police. But they were, and often still are, too obsessed with protecting their reputations and images, rather than protecting kids and families.

Few clergy sex abuse victims have shown as much courage, patience and persistence as Jim has. We are deeply grateful to him for the brave and inspiring example he has set for tens of thousands of deeply wounded men, women and teens who have been assaulted by priests, nuns, bishops and other clerics.

We believe that dozens of current and former church staff and parishioners suspected or knew about Fr. Kownacki’s crimes. All they can do now is to try and make amends for their irresponsible silence and complicity. We suggest they start by calling police and “coming clean” with what they know so that church figures who concealed child sex crimes might be prosecuted.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Friday, Aug. 05, 2011

Belleville Diocese to pay abused altar boy $6.33 million on Wednesday


After a legal battle that began in 2002, the Catholic Diocese of Belleville has agreed to pay a former altar boy in connection with sexual abuse by one of its priests in the early 1970s.

Mike Weilmuenster, attorney for James Wisniewski of Champaign, said Friday that a hearing will be held in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Wednesday where checks totaling $6.33 million will be turned over to Wisniewski and his counsel.

The decision by the diocese to pay the $5 million court judgment rendered in 2008 plus interest that has accrued at $1,250 per day followed a recent second denial by the Illinois Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the case.

Weilmuenster said the money is guaranteed by a combination of insurance and more than $4 million previously placed in an escrow account controlled by St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto, the lawsuit trial judge.

"I was approached by defense counsel last week and was told they decided they didn't want to pursue it any farther and we needed to agree on the exact figure," Weilmuenster said. "This will allow Jim to try to heal from the damage caused by the abuse."

Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton could not be reached. He was not the bishop during the time Wisniewski was abused or when church officials, according to the civil jury verdict, covered it up.

During the trial, testimony showed that the diocese knew that the Rev. Raymond Kownacki had been accused of sexually abusing children, both a girl and several boys, but kept reassigning him to parishes without warning parishioners. Kownacki, who was removed from ministry more than 15 years ago because of the allegations, has stated he will not comment.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests