Priest Joseph Hemmerle Charged with Sex Abuse
September 9, 2014
|The Rev. Joseph Hemmerle in 2000.|
Four months after he was removed from his ministry following an allegation of abuse, the Rev. Joseph Hemmerle was indicted Monday on six counts of sodomy and three counts of sexual abuse involving a minor, according to Meade County court officials.
Debbie Medley, the Meade County Circuit Court Clerk, said Hemmerle was arrested after the grand jury indictment and released after posting $5,000 of a $25,000 bond. She said the charges indicate the alleged victim was under 12 years of age.
Hemmerle, who could not be reached Tuesday, had been serving as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Cross parishes in Marion County.
According to a May 8 letter from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to parishioners, Hemmerle was placed on administrative leave after the archdiocese was "contacted by an individual who reported that he had been sexually abused by Father Hemmerle in the 1970s."
He also said the matter was being relayed to authorities in Meade County.
In 2002, while he was working as a teacher at Trinity High School, Hemmerle was also put on leave after another man alleged that he'd molested him at Camp Tall Trees, in Otter Creek Park, in the mid-1970s.
A state police investigation ensued, but no charges were brought at the time.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville said in a statement that it had "cooperated with law enforcement officials as they have investigated these accusations and will continue to fully cooperate."
"The Archdiocese encourages victims of sexual abuse to report their abuse to the police, and we hold all victims of abuse in our prayers," the statement said.
Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement that the group was "grateful to the brave victims who have come forward and are giving courage to others to do the same thing."
Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at (502) 582-4697. Follow him on Twitter at @ckenning_cj.