Convicted Priest Denied Parole, SNAP Applauds Decision

A Catholic priest in Kentucky who was convicted of child sexual abuse in 2016 was denied parole yesterday. We applaud this decision and are grateful that the parole board chose to put the protection of children first.

Michael Norris, the survivor of Fr. Joseph Hemmerle’s abuse whose testimony helped ensure the cleric’s conviction said today that “I’m glad to hear the parole board has decided to defer his parole for another 2 years. Fr. Hemmerle needs to remain in a place where he can no longer hurt children.”

Fr. Hemmerle was up for parole after serving fewer than four years of his seven year sentence. The parole board’s decision to deny his early release shows that it took the original sentencing recommendations seriously and are not willing to subject more children to a potentially dangerous man. Fr. Hemmerle has never shown any remorse for his crimes and we believe that makes him an active threat to children.

“The world is a safer place with him in prison,” said Michael, who testified again at the parole board hearing. “This has been about protecting children from the beginning, and I can now rest easy knowing I have done all I can do. “

We applaud Michael Norris for his tireless efforts to prevent future cases of child sexual abuse. Survivors like Michael who have used their own stories and pain in order to get dangerous abusers off the streets have done a tremendous service to their communities and are owed a great debt of thanks. We hope this story will encourage others who were abused to come forward, make a report to law enforcement, and start healing.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant