Catholic Priest Indicted on Sex Abuse Charges
September 9, 2014
A Catholic priest who had been removed from ministry has been charged with sexually abusing a boy in Kentucky in the 1970s.
The Rev. Joseph Hemmerle was indicted Monday on six counts of sodomy and three charges of sexual abuse. The indictment said the victim was under 12 years old.
Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz placed Hemmerle on administrative leave in May after an individual contacted the archdiocese and reported that he had been abused by Hemmerle in the 1970s. Kurtz said in a letter to archdiocese members that the archdiocese also contacted the prosecutor in Meade County, where the victim said the attack took place.
Hemmerle had been serving as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Cross parishes in Marion County when he was removed in May.
The Archdiocese said in a news release Tuesday that it "has cooperated with law enforcement officials as they have investigated these accusations and will continue to fully cooperate." The statement said the archdiocese "encourages victims of sexual abuse to report their abuse to the police."
Hemmerle had been removed from ministry once before, after he was accused in 2002 of sexually abusing a boy at a summer camp in Meade County in the mid-1970s. Hemmerle was a teacher and coach at Trinity High School in Louisville at the time of his first removal. The archdiocese later returned Hemmerle to public ministry, saying he had been cleared of the allegation.
Hemmerle is free on $25,000 bond, Meade County Circuit Court Clerk Debbi Medley said Tuesday. Medley said there was no record of an attorney for Hemmerle.
Hemmerle was ordained as a priest in 1967.
Earlier this year, a former Louisville archdiocese priest was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a teenage boy at a church where the pastor worked. James Schook, 66, was indicted on the charges in 2011 but sought several delays to the case while he battled cancer.