In 2008, a southern Illinois jury heard substantial evidence of a heinous, years-long diocesan cover-up of heart-breaking child sex crimes by Father Raymond Kownacki. Jurors awarded $5 million to one of the priest’s victims. Three years later, Belleville Diocese’s Bishop Braxton keeps battling relentlessly to avoid honoring the jury’s judgment and helping the priest’s victims heal.
Today, the Illinois Supreme Court opted not to hear yet another appeal by Bishop Braxton. For this one victim, it looks like his long struggle for accountability, prevention and justice may be nearing an end. The Diocese of Belleville must now pay this survivor.
I fear there are others who were assaulted by Kownacki – boys and girls – who are still trapped in pain and shame, feeling alone and helpless. I hope they will courageously speak up so that more of the cover ups and crimes will be unearthed.