A man who was allegedly molested dozens of times as a boy in the 1970’s will soon receive more than $6 million from the Diocese of Belleville in Illinois, ending a near decade-long fight. The plaintiff alleges that the abuse occurred at St. Theresa’s Parish in Salem, beginning when he was just 13 years old. Sadly, a huge number of similar clergy abuse lawsuits are currently being investigated around the country.
Clergy Abuse Update 5/25/12: This week, thousands of documents concerning nine Roman Catholic priests who settled a landmark clergy abuse lawsuit in 2006 were made public. The newly-released files provide a detailed look into the accusations, as well as reveal instances when members of the clergy were allowed to interact with children despite their superiors being aware of previous indiscretions. Click here to learn more.
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August 5, 2011 - Attorney Mike Weilmuenster reported to the Belleville News-Democrat that plaintiff James Wisniewski of Champaign, Ill. will be awarded $6.3 million in his decade-long lawsuit against the Diocese of Belleville. Weilmuenster said that a court hearing this Wednesday could finalize details relating to the massive payout.
In 2008, a jury awarded Wisniewski $5 million in the case, but the diocese refused to pay the sum. The additional $1.33 million includes interest since the verdict. According to the complaint, Rev. Raymond Kownacki sexually abused Wisniewski numerous times at St. Theresa's Parish when he was a child in the 1970’s. A spokesperson for the diocese stated that no such agreement to pay Wisniewski has been confirmed.
Sadly, Wisniewski’s case is hardly unique. Sexual abuse at the hands of religious clergy members first came to the media forefront in the 1980s. High-profile sexual abuse cases against members of the clergy shed light on activities that we now know have been happening for at least the last three decades. Since the first cases of clergy abuse came to the public eye, more and more survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by bishops and other clergy members have come forward to tell their stories.
Many victims of clergy sexual abuse feel shame and are reluctant to tell anyone about the unspeakable acts that were done to them. In many cases, the abuse occurred years or even decades in the past. However, silence and the passage of time only allow the pattern of abuse to continue. The only way to stop sexual predators from abusing more children is for past victims to come forward now.
Speak Out Against Clergy Sexual Abuse
It takes courage to come forward after being victimized, especially if your abuse was at the hands of a powerful organization like a church. It is your legal right to be compensated for the pain you have suffered from enduring clergy abuse. Whether it was a short time ago or decades in the past, these things are never acceptable for anyone to have to go through.
The legal system allows victims the means to confront the perpetrators who abused them when they were young and powerless. Victims may sue for emotional or financial damages caused by the abuse, such as lost wages or money spent on therapy. Others may simply want to protect their children from the same kind of abuse. These are just a few of the many reasons to seek professional help in achieving the closure and justice you deserve.
Click here to read more about clergy sexual abuse from Schmidt & Clark, LLP.
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The Sexual Abuse Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new clergy sexual abuse cases in all 50 states.