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Priest accused of molesting altar boy, kicked out of the church

Picture of Reverend Kownacki from the 1960's Picture of Reverend Kownacki from the 1960's
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - 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.

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