Louisville priest convicted of sexual abuse now eligible for parole

By Lauren Adams
WLKYDecember 19, 2017
December 19, 2017

[with video]


A Louisville priest twice convicted of sexually abusing young boys could be released from prison after serving only months of his sentence.

One of Joseph Hemmerle's victims testified before the parole board on Monday, arguing against his abuser's freedom.

"When I was sexually abused by Mr. Hemmerle two things were taken away from me that I will never get back, my innocence and my spirituality," Michael Norris said.

When testifying before the board Monday in Frankfort, Norris was at times fighting back tears.

The abuse happened at a Meade County camp in the 1970's. Norris, now 55, was just 10 years old. Decades would pass, marked with drug and alcohol abuse, even a suicide attempt before Norris went public with the abuse.

Now, one year after Hemmerle's conviction, he is eligible for parole.

"Hemmerle's act took about 15 minutes. For his 15 minutes of pleasure I've endured 44 years of heartache and I will be coping with this for the rest of my life," Norris said.

It's why Norris, who lives out of state, traveled to Kentucky to testify Monday, fighting to keep his abuser behind bars.

To date, Hemmerle has served just 10 months.

"I ask you, as the parole board, to keep Mr. Hemmerle behind bars. First for the protection of children and second for justice," he said.

Norris' mother also testified at Monday's hearing- urging the parole board to keep Hemmerle behind bars where he can't harm other children.

One member of the parole board told the Norris family he heard them quote 'loud and clear' and said their testimony would be considered before a decision was made. No word on when that decision is expected.

In June, Hemmerle received a two year sentence as part of an Alford plea in another child molesting case. In September, a judge denied his request.



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