Belleville Diocese Settles Priest Abuse Lawsuits

Brian Kelly

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.



  • Judy Block-Jones

    We commended these victims for coming forward and taking action to expose the truth, hopefully they can feel a bit of justice and validation for having been dealt a life sentence of being sexually abused as a child.

    Also any others who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Raymond Kownacki, will have the courage to speak up and report it to police.

    When victims stay silent, nothing changes. But when victims find the courage to take action, there’s at least a chance for prevention, healing and justice ­ especially when they seek independent sources of support and avoid contacting Catholic officials.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

  • j

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more victims that are too scared or embarrased to reveal their story, and some of them have surpressed the memories so much that they don’t want to relive that terrible point in their lives. I hope the victims have the strength to face their abusers and make them be accountable. The real problem is with the church. The cover up and hide or move around these pedophile priests instead of turning them over to authorities and putting them in prison where they belong. The church should share in the responsiblility because it is their fault too. And to the members of the church that support them and make excuses for the abusers know this. A portion of the money you donate to the church each week or month pays for bribes, hush money, lawyers, defense and abuse claims. I just want you to know that some of every dollar you give funds corruption and protection for child rapists and molesters. When you give to the church you support this deplorable behavior.

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