BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- A Roman Catholic priest whose decades-old molestation of a former altar boy led to a $6.3 million payout in an Illinois lawsuit has been kicked out of the priesthood by Pope Benedict XVI.
Diocese of Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton announced the move involving 78-year-old Raymond Kownacki in a statement published in a recent edition of the diocesan newspaper, The Messenger. Braxton says the papal decree calls the defrocking "for the good of the church."
Kownacki is living in a St. Louis-area nursing home and has refused media requests for interviews. He has not been charged criminally.
Kownacki's misdeeds resulted in a $5 million jury award against the diocese to James Wisniewski in 2008. That payout grew to $6.3 million to reflect interest that accrued while the diocese appealed.