Victims Group Complains about Bishops' Response

Indianapolis Star [Gary IN]
January 2, 2005

Gary -- A national group that defends victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests is questioning why it took the Diocese of Gary eight months to investigate a priest recently accused of abusing a youth during the 1980s.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, sent a letter Thursday to Bishop Dale Melczek of the Diocese of Gary and to Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Diocese of Orlando in Florida.

The letters asked why it took the two bishops eight months to respond to allegations made against the Rev. Richard Emerson.

Two weeks ago, Melczek announced that Emerson, 52, would be placed on administrative leave from his position as pastor of Michigan City's Notre Dame parish because allegations of sexual abuse made against him were deemed credible.

Emerson, a Hammond native, has been accused of engaging in sexual activity with a minor while working as a priest in the Orlando Diocese during the 1980s.

According to Clohessy's letter, Melczek know about the allegations as early as May and discussed it privately with Wenski.

The Rev. Brian Chadwick, a spokesman for the Gary Diocese, said the response team that looked into the allegations investigated thoroughly.

"The diocese has handled this responsibly and with adequate protection and responsibility for all parties involved," he said.

Chadwick said no criminal charges have been filed, although authorities in Indiana and Florida have been informed of the allegations.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.