July 02, 2005

Court: Diocese must release medical forms

Belleville News-Democrat


BELLEVILLE - A state appeals court has ordered Belleville Diocese leaders to turn over medical records of a priest removed from ministry 10 years ago following allegations that he sexually abused a child.

In a 14-page decision made public Friday, a three-justice panel of the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon ordered the diocese to provide medical records of the Rev. Raymond Kownacki, 70, to attorneys representing James Wisniewski, 44, of Champaign and an unidentified second plaintiff. Both men state in their suits that Kownacki sexually abused them when they were boys.

Their lawsuits, filed well after the usual statute of limitations, were allowed under the legal theory that the men only relatively recently realized the psychological damage of the alleged abuse.

Kownacki could not be reached.

The high court lifted a $2,000 contempt of court fine and an order to pay $26,000 in plaintiff's attorneys' fees levied against the diocese last year by St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto.

The specified medical records, including any records of psychiatric or psychological treatments, pertain only to documents that existed before Jan. 9, 1979, when a medical record protection act went into effect in Illinois. It also applies to alcohol counseling evaluations that predate July 1, 1988, when a similar law took effect to protect those records.

Posted by kshaw at July 2, 2005 10:16 AM