Louisville priest’s molestation trial begins


Chris Kenning , @ckenning_cj November 28, 2016

BRANDENBURG, Ky. — Michael Norris was a 10-year-old Catholic school student from Louisville in 1973 when he spent a week playing games and sleeping in cabins at Camp Tall Trees, a popular summer camp at Otter Creek Park run by the Archdiocese of Louisville.

It was there, Norris told a Meade County jury on Monday, that the Rev. Joseph Hemmerle, who ran the camp for 35 years, asked him one night to his cabin to treat a bad case of poison ivy.

Norris was told to strip and stand on a stool, while Hemmerle applied topical medicine and then used his hands and mouth to touch him sexually, he said, asking him if it felt good. Afterward, he was in shock: “God, what just happened? What is this?” he recalled thinking.

Norris, 53, didn’t tell anyone for years, he said, choking back tears on the witness stand — afraid he wouldn’t be believed. When he finally did as an adult in 2001, it didn’t result in charges until a second accuser came forward more than a decade later.

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