Priest Indicted for Sex Abuse by Meade Co. Grand Jury
September 9, 2014
A Meade County grand jury has indicted a priest on charges of sexual abuse.
The Louisville Archdiocese says they received a report in May of this year from a man who says he was sexually abused in the 1970s by Rev. Joseph Hemmerle.
Hemmerle was a priest at the St. Francis and Holy Cross Parishes in Marion County; the alleged abuse took place in Meade County.
A grand jury indicted Hemmerle on Sept. 9 on three counts of sexual abuse and six counts of sodomy involving a child under the age of 12.
The Archdiocese says Hemmerle is on administrative leave pending a police investigation.
The Archdiocese of Louisville released the following statement concerning the allegations:
"The Archdiocese of Louisville learned today that Father R. Joseph Hemmerle has been indicted in Meade County on several counts of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese has cooperated with law enforcement officials as they have investigated these allegations and will continue to fully cooperate. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz places Father Hemmerle on administrative leave in May of 2014 after an individual came forward who reported that he had been sexually abused by Father Hemmerle in the 1970s. Father Hemmerle had been serving as a pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Holy Cross, Ky. and St. Francis Parish in St. Francis, Ky. The Archdiocese encourages victims of sexual abuse to report their abuse to the police, and we hold all victims of abuse in our prayers."
Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also released a statement:
"A Louisville priest has been charged with child sex crimes stemming from allegations by a second victim. We hope church officials take this more seriously than they apparently did after the first allegations were reported. We are also grateful to the brave victims who have come forward and are giving courage to others to do the same thing. In May, Fr. Hemmerle was removed from ministry again after a second victim came forward. He has now been charged with nine counts of sexual crimes against children. Fr. Joseph Hemmerle was first accused of abuse in 2001, after a man came forward and told the Archdiocese of Louisville. The Archdiocese put Fr. Hemmerle back in ministry, falsely claiming police had cleared him. These alleged internal church investigations often exonerate priests who are later civilly sued or criminally charged with child sex crimes. Ironically, if there's one prelate in the U.S. who should get this right, it's Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz. He's the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His Archdiocese has faced more than 250 abuse and cover up lawsuits and has at least 63 proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics. But Kurtz and his staff put back on the job a priest who's now been arrested and has had 12 or 13 more years to assault kids. We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sexual abuse, by Fr. Hemmerle or any other official will find the courage to come forward, report to police, help others and start healing. As this case clearly shows, when victims come forward they give courage to others who have been suffering in silence and self blame."
To avoid jail time, Hemmerle paid $5,000 on his $25,000 bond.