Ky Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse
May 12, 2014
A Catholic priest who leads two parishes in central Kentucky has been placed on administrative leave after an allegation that he sexually abused a boy in the 1970s.
The Rev. Joseph Hemmerle is pastor at St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Cross parishes in Marion County.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz wrote in a letter to parishioners that the Archdiocese of Louisville was contacted by someone who alleged the abuse by Hemmerle. The archdiocese referred it to law enforcement in Meade County, where the abuse allegedly occurred. The archdiocese is also conducting an internal investigation.
"We realize that this is a painful situation, and we want to support you during this time of uncertainty," Kurtz wrote. "Please keep Father Joe and all victims of sexual abuse in your prayers."
The Courier-Journal reports Hemmerle was also put on leave in 2002 after another man alleged he was molested in the mid-1970s at Camp Tall Trees, in Otter Creek Park. Hemmerle was allowed to return to ministry after investigations by police and the archdiocese could not substantiate the accusation.
Hemmerle declined to comment when reached by the newspaper.
A call to David M. Williams, commonwealth's attorney in Meade County, was not returned Monday.
Kurtz noted in his letter that this was the second accusation involving the priest, who is from Louisville. But "neither the Archdiocese nor the police was able to substantiate the accusation, so Father Hemmerle was able to return to ministry," Kurtz wrote.
Since being allowed to return to ministry in 2003, Hemmerle has served as pastor of the two Marion County churches near Loretto.
Archdiocese officials said the new accusation was received Thursday.