Investigation of Priest Closed

Orlando Sentinel [Orlando FL]
Downloaded February 17, 2005

The Orlando Police Department has closed its investigation of a visiting Catholic priest accused of molesting an Orlando man for a period of years while the man was a minor.

Police will not bring charges against the Rev. Richard Emerson because the statute of limitations has run out, Orlando Police Sgt. Brian Gilliam said. Emerson, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Gary, Ind., worked in three Central Florida churches between 1987 and 1991.

Investigators interviewed the victim, now 29, and determined that the alleged incidents took place at a time when the statute of limitations required a victim to report abuse within three years of turning 16. They also checked with federal authorities, who have a more flexible statute of limitations in such cases, but discovered that requirement also had passed, Gilliam said.

Joe Saunders, attorney for the Orlando man, was satisfied with the investigation but said it would not affect the civil case filed against Emerson, Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Dale Melczek of the Gary diocese.

"They did the best they could under the restrictions of that statute of limitations," Saunders said of the police investigation.

An attorney for Emerson released a statement last week denying the allegations and calling the civil lawsuit "shameful."


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