Louisville Priest Resigns after Abuse Allegation

Associated Press State & Local Wire
May 11, 2002

A Louisville priest resigned as pastor of a Roman Catholic parish after he was accused of sexual abuse, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

The Rev. Joseph T. Herp, who had been pastor of St. Leonard parish, is the second Louisville priest to resign in the past week over such allegations.

St. Leonard parishioners were sent letters Friday from Louisville Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly explaining Herp's resignation, said Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The accuser alleged that sexual abuse occurred in the 1970s, Kelly's letter said. "There have been other concerns expressed to us about Father Herp from this same era," the letter said.

The letter did not specify when the other concerns were brought up.

"Father Herp had been assessed, and I believed that he could be reassigned and would not be a danger to children," the letter said. "But with these recent allegations I cannot take the risk of putting anyone in harm's way, and Father Herp has agreed to resign as pastor immediately."

Herp could not be reached for comment. A phone call to the parish was not returned Saturday night.

A total of 38 people have filed lawsuits against the archdiocese since April 19 alleging sexual abuse, but Herp was not named in any of those cases.

Herp was ordained in 1973 and spent his entire priesthood in the Louisville archdiocese, Price said. He had been at St. Leonard for a couple of years and previously served at Incarnation and St. Ann, she said.

Price said she was not sure which parish Herp was serving at the time the abuse was alleged to have occurred.

Kelly apologized in his letter "on behalf of the Church," as he did in a similar letter when a priest resigned earlier in the week. "Please know that you and your families are in my prayers."

Herp was chaplain for the Jefferson County sheriff's department but resigned Thursday, said Lt. Col. Carl Yates, a spokesman for the department. He had previously been a chaplain for the Louisville Police Department, Yates said.

"Father Herp volunteered to resign his chaplaincy, and (Sheriff John) Aubrey accepted it," Yates said.

The Rev. Thomas P. Creagh's resignation was announced to parishioners at Holy Family Church last Monday. He has been accused in a lawsuit of molesting children in the 1980s.


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