KY- Priest suspended for second time, SNAP responds

For immediate release: Monday, May 12, 2014

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790  [email protected])

A Kentucky priest has been placed on leave after a second abuse allegation was reported. We are grateful to the brave victim for stepping forward and reporting their abuse.

Fr. Joseph Hemmerle, who is the pastor at two parishes in the Louisville diocese, has now been twice accused of abusing children in the 1970s. After the first allegation was made, the diocese claimed the accusation was "unsubstantiated," and put Fr. Hemmerle back in a parish.

This is a perfect example of why church "abuse investigations" are so inadequate and why letting accused priests return to ministry is dangerous. Catholic officials usually do the absolute bare minimum when an abuse report is made. Then, they claim the report can't be "substantiated," and put the alleged child molesting cleric back on the job. 

Instead, church officials should be open and work hard to find others with information that could prove or disprove the allegation. They should announce the accusation in church bulletins, parish websites and on the archdiocesan website. But they refuse.

And more often than not, there are other victims.

Now, Archbishop Kurtz should immediately visit every parish Fr. Hemmerle worked and beg anyone who saw, suspects, or suffered child sex crimes to come forward, report to police, and start healing. 

Those who ignored or concealed Fr. Hemmerle’s crimes - whether current or former church employees or members - should find the courage to speak up, so that other innocent people can be protected and other guilty people can be prosecuted. 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is 

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]) Colleen Powell (502-479-0246, [email protected]) Kim Richardson ([email protected]), Jeff Koenig (502-608-2738)

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