Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ex-NWI priest faces more sex allegations

Alleged victim says Emerson fondled him at Florida church in 1980s

Ex-NWI priest faces more sex allegations
By Bill Dolan -, (219) 662-5328 | Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 12:05 am

A Florida man is alleging he was another victim of childhood abuse by former Northwest Indiana priest Richard Emerson.

Media reports from Orlando, Fla., state attorneys for a 34-year-old father of two claims Emerson plied him with alcohol and pornography and fondled him at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Orlando, where he was an altar boy in the late 1980s. No trial date has been set.

Carol Brinati, director of communications for the Orlando Diocese, said Thursday, "We trust the alleged victim's attorney will allow us to meet with the alleged victim to discuss his situation. We pray for all those involved in this situation."

Mark Plaiss, director of communications for the Diocese of Gary and a church deacon, didn't return a phone call for comment Thursday afternoon.

Emerson, whose last known address was Las Vegas, was the subject of a similar lawsuits in Florida in 2005 and Northwest Indiana in 2008.

The family of a teenage boy claims in the local lawsuit the boy was repeatedly molested by Emerson in 2003 while Emerson was a priest at St. Thomas More Church in Munster. That case is set for trial in 2012.

Emerson began his career in the Catholic Church as a priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Hammond in 1979. He went on to become a liaison to the Gary Boy Scouts and an administrator of Hoosier Boy's Town, now known as Campagna Academy, a shelter for troubled children, in Schererville during the 1980s.

He transferred to St. Charles Borromeo Church in Orlando, where he presided from 1987 until 1991, when he was terminated for "inappropriate attention to two teen sons of a particular family," according to court records.

He returned to the Gary Diocese, where he was priest at Assumption Church in East Chicago, St. Joseph's Church in LaPorte, St. Thomas More in Munster and Notre Dame Church in Michigan City.

Brinati said the Orlando Diocese first was notified in May 2004 of sexual misconduct allegations concerning Emerson, which were turned over to law enforcement and the Gary Diocese.

The church granted Emerson's request to give up his priestly duties in 2006 and removed him from the clergy, according to the Gary Diocese.

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