Archdiocese Responds to Hemmerle Sex Abuse Indictment
September 9, 2014
In 2002 the Louisville Archdiocese was dealing with hundreds of sexual assault allegations. One of the priests under investigation was Father Joseph Hemmerle. That investigation ended in no charges against Hemmerle and he returned to the ministry.
On Monday, that all changed when after a new investigation, Hemmerle was indicted in Meade County on three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree of a victim less than 12 years of age, and six counts of sodomy in the first degree of a victim less than 12 years of age.
"That's substantial charges,” Jeff Koenig, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said. “I mean that's serious, that's scary to think about."
The allegations stem from the 1970s-with the alleged abuse happening at Camp Tall Trees, which used to be inside Otter Creek Park in Meade County. The camp closed down in 2002.
"It's kind of disturbing to me that that was sort of a dead end and he's been in ministry after these charges were accurate from 12 years ago," Koenig said.
Koenig said he was sadly not surprised when he heard that Hemmerle had been indicted.
"Well it's something you get used to as a survivor because you find out they usually don't stop with just one," he said. “I believe there are two accusers on the indictment.”
WHAS11 communicated via email with the man who brought the original allegations against Hemmerle back in 2002. He said that both he and the new victim are involved in the criminal case. A copy of the indictment was not available today.
The Archdiocese of Louisville released a statement today saying they have been working with law enforcement officials and will continue to cooperate. The statement also said the Archdiocese encourages victims of sexual abuse to continue to come forward and they hold all victims in their prayers.
Koenig said he and other members of SNAP feel the Archdiocese are not taking these accusations seriously enough.
"It's a part of who you are for the rest of your life,” Koenig said. “The damage is forever, until the day you die. So it stays with us, every one of us, for the rest of our lives.”
Hemmerle’s next court date is October 23 at 9:00am.
Archdiocese of Louisville's full statement:
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 accusations and will continue to fully cooperate.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz placed 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.
WHAS11's Whitney Harding will have reaction from the group SNAP, a survivors network for those abused by priests, at five.