Man who accused priest of sexual abuse shares his story
Father Joseph Hemmerle
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The man who says a Kentucky priest molested him as a child is sharing his story days after another man came forward saying he was sexually abused by the same priest.
Father Joseph Hemmerle has been placed on administrative leave as lead pastor from two Marion County churches since this second accusation.
Michael Norris is a Louisville native who now lives in Houston and works as a chemical engineer. Late last week he found out another man has come forward accusing Father Joseph Hemmerle of sexual abuse.
"The church confirmed to me that the victim was abused at Camp Tall Trees, which is the same place I was abused so quite honestly that place was open for probably 30 years, we're not the only two, I'm sure there are more," said Norris.
Norris said he attended Camp Tall Trees in Meade County when he was 11. He said he got a bad case of poison ivy and Hemmerle told him he could help.
"He asked me to come back to his cabin that evening, so I showed up to his cabin and I was sexually abused," said Norris.
The now 51-year-old said it took more than decade for him to tell anyone. It was in 2002 when he said he made a mistake by telling the Archdiocese of Louisville first instead of the police.
Back then Hemmerle was suspended and removed as a teacher at Trinity High School.
The Archdiocese of Louisville released in a statement that Father Hemmerle was reassigned after police never filed any charges and after an internal investigation.
"I was never questioned by the church about the allegation," said Norris. "I can describe the room it happened in, I can described exactly what happened. It's a very vivid memory I have. It's something I think about almost every day, but they never questioned me let they claim they've done an investigation. That's hogwash. That's not true."
Norris said he is not after money.
"I will never take a penny from them," said Norris.
Instead all he hopes for is justice. "Quite honestly I've forgiven him," said Norris. "He's a human being just like the rest of us, but he does need to pay for what he did, because what he did was illegal and it was wrong."
The Archdiocese of Louisville responded to our request for an interview with this statement:
"Based upon information from the single accusation we had in 2002, neither the Archdiocese nor the police could substantiate the accusation. The Archdiocese conducted an internal investigation, and the police never filed any charges after their investigation of several months. Therefore, Fr. Hemmerle received a new assignment.
When we received the new accusation last week, we immediately suspended Fr. Hemmerle from ministry and reported the information to the authorities. The Archdiocese will fully cooperate with any police investigation."
The Archdiocese is urging anyone who has been victimized by a member of the clergy or a church employee to contact Martine Siegel, victim assistance coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville, at 502-636-1044 or firstname.lastname@example.org.