Diocese Sex Abuse Case Slow Going

By Teresa Auch
July 17, 2007,abuse.article

Gary (IN) — A sexual abuse lawsuit involving the Diocese of Gary continues to move on as a similar one in Los Angeles reached a settlement Monday.

Lawyers for both sides of the lawsuit, filed in January 2005, say they continue to gather facts with no trial date in the near future.

An unidentified man sued Rev. Richard Emerson, formerly with the Diocese of Gary, claiming Emerson sexually abused him as a minor in the 1980s when Emerson was working in Orlando, Fla.

Emerson has since faced other accusations of sexual misconduct.

Joe Saunders, attorney for the plaintiff, said he was continuing to try to get documents from both dioceses in Gary and Florida.

"I would prefer to see things moving more quickly, but this is not unusual for these types of hearings," Saunders said.

Robert Radel, attorney for the defense, said part of the problem is the sexual abuse, if true, happened about 20 years ago.

"Many of these events occurred a long, long time ago," he said. "That will impact on memories and witnesses."

Both lawyers said they did not expect a trial to be scheduled for another year.

Radel did not rule out the possibility of settlement but said it was too soon to tell whether the case would go to trial.

Saunders, though, said he would prefer to see the case go to court.

"We're looking forward to a jury trial to get the truth out," Saunders said.

Emerson has since resigned from the Catholic Church. His last position was as pastor at Michigan City's Notre Dame parish starting in July 2003. He had also worked in Hammond's Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Schererville's Hoosier Boys Town, Munster's St. Thomas More and parishes in East Chicago and LaPorte.

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