2nd Lawsuit Filed against Priest

February 13, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new lawsuit has been filed accusing a former Roman Catholic priest in Central Florida of sexual abuse on a child.

Attorney Joe Saunders filed the papers in circuit civil court that claim a former priest in the Orlando Catholic Diocese molested a boy beginning at age 9.

"It's left him emotionally very damaged," Saunders said.

Rev. Richard Emerson was a religion teacher at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in College Park, where the alleged victim attended school.

According to the lawsuit, which names Emerson, the Orlando Diocese and his home diocese of Gary, Ind., "Emerson lured and enticed [the] plaintiff, sexually molested and committed battery upon [the] plaintiff. Emerson frightened, intimidated and coerced the plaintiff into not revealing that those acts had occurred."

The plaintiff said after he graduated, he continued a sexual relationship with Emerson into his early 20s because, he said, Catholic leadership looked the other way.

"The Bishops pretty much across the board, across the country, were more concerned with preventing scandal upon the church than protecting children," Saunders said.

In January 2005, Saunders filed a lawsuit against Emerson on behalf of another of his former St. Charles students — that case is awaiting a trial date.

In the new case, the diocese said it offered the plaintiff counseling, but he refused.

"We acted responsibly once we learned of the allegation, and we tried to work with this individual as best as possible," Carol Brinati of the Orlando Catholic Diocese said.

Emerson was investigated criminally by Orlando police and federal authorities, but no charges were filed because the statute of limitations had run out.

Emerson has since been removed from his duties as a priest by the Diocese of Gary, Ind. and is living in Las Vegas.


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