March 23, 2006

Ex-priest presses privacy case

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Philip Ewing


Illinois privacy laws protect the mental health records of a former Belleville priest accused of child molestation, even though the records predated the laws, the ex-priest's attorneys told the Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville and the former priest, Raymond Kownacki, argued that laws enacted in 1979 and 1988 protect documents relating to Kownacki's psychological treatment and alcohol abuse.

But attorneys for one of his accusers, James Wisniewski, alleged that Kownacki and the diocese are misusing the law to cloak nonmedical records.

The records, if released, would likely be used to argue that the church knew that Kownacki was abusing children during the 1970s and did not act. The court is expected to rule in the next few months.

Kownacki was removed from the ministry in 1995 amid abuse allegations.

Posted by kshaw at March 23, 2006 08:08 AM