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Parks v. Kownacki

June 01, 1999


Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 95-L-308 Honorable Lloyd A. Cueto, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman


The following facts are true.

In 1955, during President Eisenhower's first term in office and two years before Sputnik was launched, Gina Trimble was born into a devout Roman Catholic family. Her family believed that, in order to live their lives correctly and to receive God's blessings, they had to follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church without question. Gina and her eight brothers and sisters attended Young Catholic Training classes at St. Francis Xavier Church.

In 1970, during President Nixon's first term in office and one year after man's first moon walk, Gina was 15 years old. In 1970, defendant Catholic Diocese of Belleville (Diocese) assigned Father Raymond Kownacki to be the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Church in St. Francisville, Illinois. Father Kownacki gained Gina's trust and respect during the Young Catholic Training classes, and he employed her to clean the St. Francis Xavier Church rectory.

One Saturday in the fall of 1970, while Gina was cleaning Father Kownacki's bedroom, he raped her.

Father Kownacki told Gina that he loved her and that she must never tell anyone about his sexual assault of her, for, if she did, not only Gina but the entire Trimble family would be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. In early 1971, Father Kownacki told Gina that he was being transferred to defendant St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church (St. Martin) and that he was going to take her with him. Gina did not want to go with him, but she was afraid to tell anyone why she did not want to go.

Father Kownacki convinced the Trimble family that Gina needed a higher education than what she was getting in public school, that she was not being challenged, that she should be allowed to accompany him to St. Martin, where she would get a much better education, and that she would be able to more fully develop her artistic talents at St. Paul's Catholic High School (St. Paul's). Father Kownacki further attempted to ingratiate himself with the Trimble family by providing financial assistance.

Although Gina was filled with shame and guilt at the thought of moving to Washington Park, she could not bring herself to visit this shame and guilt upon her family in the small, very Catholic, rural community where she had been raised. She believed she could not disclose to anyone what Father Kownacki had done to her. Father Kownacki obtained and exercised virtually complete psychological control, domination, and authority over Gina.

Gina moved into the church rectory in Washington Park with Father Kownacki in the summer of 1971. At age 16, Gina was expected to do the housekeeping, cooking, and laundry for Father Kownacki while she attended school at St. Paul's. Father Kownacki continued to exert such psychological control over Gina that in the evenings she served as his mistress, submitting to sexual intercourse when Father Kownacki required it, which was approximately once or twice a week. Father Kownacki encouraged Gina to drink alcohol, particularly before he planned sexual activity. Father Kownacki was also abusing alcohol throughout this period of time.

Father Kownacki encouraged and insisted that Gina date boys for appearances' sake, but she was not to have a sexual relationship with anyone but Father Kownacki. Gina could not confide in anyone about the way Father Kownacki was using her and sexually abusing her, because of the warnings and threats he made earlier and that he continued to make. In about December of 1971, Gina began dating a boy Father Kownacki introduced to her. She dated this boy steadily thereafter.

In the fall of 1972 Gina attempted to refuse to have intercourse with Father Kownacki and locked her bedroom door. But Father Kownacki had a key, and he forced his way inside her room and forced her to have intercourse. He did this on numerous occasions. Father Kownacki took photographs of Gina nude and threatened to send them to the Trimble family if she refused to have intercourse with him or disclosed his sexual abuse of her. After taking her to a sexually explicit movie, Father Kownacki physically forced Gina to perform fellatio on him. Fellatio became his preferred method of sexual gratification, and he repeatedly required Gina to perform fellatio on him. This was even more revolting to Gina than the sexual intercourse that she had been previously forced to endure.

In January 1973 Gina had intercourse with the boy she had been dating for the past year. When she returned to the church rectory that evening, Father Kownacki was waiting for her. He was angry and intoxicated. He threatened her life and raped her.

For the next several months Gina did not see her boyfriend. She also learned that she was pregnant. She met with her boyfriend to inform him of her pregnancy. Gina believed that her boyfriend was the father of her baby because Father Kownacki claimed to have had a vasectomy in Guatemala. Her boyfriend took her to a doctor, who confirmed the pregnancy. Gina's boyfriend then promised to marry Gina and care for her and their baby.

In approximately March of 1973, Gina came home late after seeing her boyfriend. Father Kownacki flew into a drunken rage. He grabbed her hair, beat her head against the wall and the floor, and beat her with the chair. Gina told Father Kownacki she was pregnant, and she fought back physically. Gina told Father Kownacki that she was going to marry her boyfriend, have the baby, and get out of his life and that no one would ever know about her and Father Kownacki. In an attempt to end the beating she was receiving, Gina swore to Father Kownacki that she would never tell about his sexual abuse of her. Father Kownacki again flew into a rage, began again to beat Gina, and screamed at her that if he could not have her, no one would.

Father Kownacki advised Gina that there was no way she could have a baby. He required her to drink a potion that he told her was a quinine mixture used in Central America to abort babies that are not wanted. Gina, who felt completely at the mercy of Father Kownacki at this point, drank the potion, began feeling very tired and weak, and went to her bedroom to lie down. Father Kownacki then entered her bedroom, removed Gina's slacks and underpants, inserted his entire hand into Gina's vagina and wrenched and squeezed her uterus. Gina passed out. She has only vague recollections of the events that followed. Gina does remember waking up and finding herself lying in a pool of blood. She somehow got back to her home in Allendale.

Shortly thereafter, Gina self-aborted a dead fetus at home. She was taken, along with the fetus, to the Wabash General Hospital in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. Gina was also treated for endometriosis and toxemia. She was informed that if had she not been hospitalized, she would not have lived.

After Gina recovered, she returned to Washington Park in approximately April of 1973, to pick up her belongings from the church rectory. She was accompanied by her father and mother. Father Kownacki was present when they arrived. Gina's father threatened Father Kownacki, but Father Kownacki responded that no one would believe Gina's story and that no one could "touch him." As Gina left the Church rectory, ...

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