Priest sentenced to seven years

Record Staff Report

Father Hemmerle

Father Joseph Hemmerle, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, was sentenced by a Meade County judge Feb. 9 to serve seven years in prison.

He was found guilty on one count of immoral or indecent practices with a child by a Meade County, Ky., jury on Nov. 29. The jury recommended the seven-year sentence.

Father Hemmerle, 74, is accused of abusing two boys at Camp Tall Trees in Meade County. A trial in the other case is pending.

The Archdiocese of Louisville said in a statement, “No child should have to experience abuse of any kind. The archdiocese is committed to reaching out to victims of sexual abuse and preventing the sexual abuse of minors through training and education.

“We continue to encourage victims of sexual abuse by church employees to contact the police and our victim assistance coordinator, Martine Siegel,” it said. Siegel can be reached  at 502-636-1044 or

The statement indicated, “At this time, Father Hemmerle remains a priest who has been suspended from ministry and has been directed not to present himself as a priest, pending the results of the criminal proceedings, which will continue with another trial this year.

“After the criminal process is complete, Father Hemmerle’s case will be given to the Holy See for a final determination of his status as a priest,” the statement said.

According to the archdiocese, Father Hemmerle has served in the following parishes: St. Francis Church in St. Francis, Ky., Holy Cross Church in Holy Cross, Ky., the former St. Timothy Church (now part of St. Peter the Apostle Church); St. Barnabas Church; the former St. John Church; St. Raphael Church; St. Bartholomew Church; and the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky.

He also served at Trinity High School, Camp Tall Trees in Meade County  and St. Thomas-St. Vincent Home.

Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or has information about sexual abuse is encouraged to contact Siegel.

To report abuse to civil authorities, call the child protection services or the local police in your county. Visit for a list of these agencies by county.

The statewide child abuse hotline is available at 1-877-KYSAFE1 or 1-877-597-2331.

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