Louisville priest convicted of sex abuse to be released; victim says kids aren’t safe
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Michael Norris’ life was altered by sexual abuse, dealing with the trauma for nearly 50 years.
In just days, Norris’ abuser is soon to be set free.
Father Raymond Hemmerle was convicted by a jury of sexual abuse in 2017.
According to a VINE notification to Norris, Hemmerle was convicted by a jury of sexual abuse in 2017 and is set to be released from prison on Oct. 1. Now Norris, 58, is concerned there’s nothing stopping the convicted sexual abuser from harming other children.
”[Archbishop Kelly] looks at me and says, ‘You know, Mr. Norris, you don’t have to worry about Father Hemmerle, he’s much older now and his sex drive isn’t what it used to be,’” Norris said.
Norris decided to come forward to the Archbishop about his abuse 30 years ago. He said the conversation was shocking.
”[His lawyers] turned it into, ‘Hey, he was just putting calamine lotion,’” Norris said. “He had no reason to touch me at all.”
Norris was abused when he was 10 years old, and spent most of his life trying to make sense of what Hemmerle did at Camp Tall Trees.
He said the trauma and inability to share what he experienced led him down a reckless path, turning to drugs and alcohol and dropping out of school.
”My mother, my father told me I needed to go back to school, get a job or get out of the house,” Norris said.
Norris signed up to serve in the Navy at age 17, the first time trying to get away from the trauma. He said it took years for the diocese to acknowledge the sexual abuse even after coming forward.
Finally, Norris had his day in court with Hemmerle at trial.
”I’m concerned this guy is getting out,” Norris said. “He doesn’t have to register as a sex offender. He can show up next door and you won’t have a clue who this man is. Your children can get around him. I can tell you from my own experience they don’t want to go through that.”
Norris said the court hearings after Hemmerle’s conviction became tiring. Now that Hemmerle is set to get out, Norris said it seems like his efforts went in vain.
”The reason why I did all this was to put him away from children,” Norris said. “He wouldn’t admit he’s a pedophile. He’s still the same person we put in there. I don’t care what Archbishop Kelly says, his sex drive... doesn’t matter. He will still abuse children.”
According to a statement from the diocese, Father Hemmerle is no longer part of the Archdiocese of Louisville, but he is still a priest.
The decision if Hemmerle will be dismissed from the priesthood or may lead to a life of prayer and penance will be decided by the Holy See, the universal government of the Catholic Church.
The diocese has not set a timeline for the Holy See proceedings.
According to Kentucky Department of Corrections, KRS 439.3406, MRS is a statutory form of release and places inmates nearing the end of their sentence under the supervision of a probation and parole officer for 6 to 8 months.
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