A Louisville priest is set to go on trial on sex abuse charges nearly 15 years after allegations surfaced from a man who said he was molested by the priest at a Catholic summer camp in the 1970s, reports the Lexington Herald Leader.
Rev. Joseph Hemmerle will face charges of sexual abuse and sodomy at the trial beginning today in Meade County, where he ran the boys summer camp for decades.
Another trial is set in April where Hemmerle faces similar abuse allegations from a second alleged victim who attended Camp Tall Trees as a child.
The first allegations against Hemmerle were brought by Michael Norris in a 2001 letter Norris wrote to both Hemmerle and Louisville archdiocese officials.
His letter was sent just months before several plaintiffs sued the archdiocese, accusing dozens of priest of sexual abuse.
The archdiocese settled a class action lawsuit with 243 plaintiffs, which Norris was not a part of, for more than $25 million.
The Archdiocese of Louisville placed Hemmerle on administrative leave after his indictment in 2014. According to Archdiocese spokeswoman Cecelia Price, Hemmerle remains on leave and is not allowed to present himself publicly as a priest. His status will be updated when the criminal cases are over.
Hemmerle was teaching at Louisville’s Trinity High School at the time Norris wrote his 2001 letter. Hemmerle was suspended once police launch an investigation. Months went by and due to no criminal charges were filed, the church reinstated Hemmerle in June 2002.
When the second alleged victim came forward in 2014, Hemmerle was finally indicted on sexual abuse and sodomy charges baed on the allegations from Norris and the other man.
Norris alleged the priest brought him to his personal cabin after Norris contracted a rash from poison ivy, where he was told to remove all his clothes and when Hemmerle improperly touched him with his hands and mouth.
I applaud Norris and the other victim for coming forward and seeking justice. It is due to their bravery that Hemmerle is now exposed and can no longer harm others.