Church in Crisis
The Rev. Joseph T. Herp

Louisville Courier-Journal
September 29, 2002

[See the main page of this special section on the Church in Crisis.]

Herp resigned in May as pastor of St. Leonard parish in Louisville after someone came forward with allegations of sexual abuse from the 1970s. The Archdiocese of Louisville did not elaborate on the allegations and said the person wished to remain unnamed. After that, two men filed lawsuits alleging that Herp sexually abused them when they were teen-agers. The priest was ordained in 1973 and also has served as chaplain for the Louisville police and Jefferson County sheriff's departments and at St. Ann, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Incarnation and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes. Church officials said Herp has been removed from active ministry. He did not return a call seeking comment.


PLAINTIFF: John S. Vandeveer
AGE: 38
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Maintenance worker
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Late 1970s, St. Ann rectory bedroom
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Vandeveer said in his lawsuit that Herp invited him to spend the night at the rectory and sexually abused him. Vandeveer said Herp invited him to the rectory so he get familiar with it before taking care of it while Herp was out of town. He said Herp came into the room that night after he went to bed and attempted to sexually abuse him.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "He had me so scared. I thought, 'Nobody's going to believe me.'"


PLAINTIFF: Kevin Spalding
AGE: 27
ADDRESS: Shelby County
OCCUPATION: Truck driver
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE, LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1990, St. Elizabeth of Hungary rectory bedroom
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Spalding said his grandmother, who lived in the St. Elizabeth parish, took him to Herp for help after he got in a fight with his mother and ran away from home at about age 15. He said Herp invited him to stay with him over the weekend until he could get him to a youth shelter. During the night, he awoke to find Herp fondling his genitals, Spalding said.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "There's been a lot of nights that I've thought about him. . . . I learned early, you can't trust anybody."


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