KY--Priest sentenced in abuse case

For immediate release Thursday, February 9

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director 314-503-0003 [email protected]

A Louisville priest who is accused of molesting two children and spent 30 years running a camp for kids has been sentenced to seven years in prison. A support group for victims is praising those who helped prosecute him and begging others who “may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes or church cover ups” to come forward.  

Fr. R. Joseph Hemmerle was suspended twice – in 2002 and again in 2014 - by Louisville archdiocesan officials because of credible abuse reports. 

“At least two brave victims came forward reporting Fr. Hemmerle’s crimes. They deserve our gratitude. Their courage has made kids safer,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “But they shouldn’t have had to carry the burden of prosecuting this predator alone. We firmly believe that there are others with information or suspicions about Fr. Hemmerle. Those individuals should summon the strength to step up and call police or prosecutors right away.”

“There’s been very little attention given to the fact that Fr. Hemmerle faces at least two criminal accusers and is facing another trial later this year,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “Long ago, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz should have been making pulpit announcements and posting notices in church bulletins and on parish websites begging others with knowledge about Fr. Hemmerle to call law enforcement.” 

Fr. Hemmerele worked at four Louisville institutions: two parishes (St. John's and St. Raphael the Archangel), a school (Trinity High) and an orphanage (St. Thomas-St. Vincent Home). He also worked at Holy Cross parish in Loretto, St. Francis of Assisi parish in St. Francis, Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown and Camp Tall Trees at Otto Creek Park in Meade County.

 “We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sexual abuse, by Fr. Hemmerle or any other official will find the courage to come forward, report to police, help others and start healing,” Dorris emphasized. “As this case clearly shows, when victims come forward they give courage to others who have been suffering in silence and self-blame.”

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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 - Cal Pfeiffer, 502-396-7178[email protected]    Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

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