Louisville Priest Found Guilty of Inappropriate Touching
By Charles Gazaway
November 29, 2016
|Fr. Joseph Hemmerle (Source: WAVE 3 News)|
The verdict against a Louisville priest on trial for allegations of indecent or immoral practice was returned Tuesday.
After a two-day trial, a Meade County jury returned the verdict against Fr. Joseph Hemmerle after less than two hours of deliberation.
Hemmerle was facing two counts of indecent or immoral practice. The jury found Hemmerle not guilty on one charge of engaging in a sexual act and guilty on a count of inappropriate touching.
Hemmerle was director and camp counselor for Camp Tall Trees in Meade County for 30 years. He has also served as a parish priest and a teacher at Trinity High School.
The first sexual abuse allegations were brought against Hemmerle in 2001 by Michael Norris, but Hemmerle was not charged and was only reassigned by an internal investigation by the church.
“I've been waiting 15 years for my day in court and as you saw, I finally got my day in court,” Norris said after the verdict. “This was really about the victims and keeping other children from being abused.”
The jury recommended Hemmerle serve seven years in prison. He is expected to appear in court for final sentencing on Feb. 9 at 9 a.m.
A second victim came forward a few years later in 2014 with more allegations, which lead prosecutors to bring charges and for Hemmerle to be suspended by the church. This jury was only told about Norris’s allegations in 2001.
“All the evidence that was presented in the case to the jury,” Norris said. “That was available to Catholic church in 2001 and they chose to ignore it so this man has been allowed around children for the last 15 years."
Hemmerle still faces seven more charges stemmed from the 2014 allegations. That case is scheduled to be tried in April according to Meade County prosecutors.