Assignment Record – Rev. R. Joseph Hemmerle

Summary of Case: Ordained for the Louisville archdiocese in 1967, Hemmerle was a parish priest, high school teacher and long-time director of a summer camp for boys. He was removed from active ministry in January 2002 when a man went to the police with a report that the priest had molested him at the summer camp in the mid-1970s, when the man was an 11-year-old boy. The archdiocese had known about the allegation since September 2001, when the accuser went to them. Hemmerle was cleared by the archdiocese and reinstated in June 2002, despite the fact that the police investigation was ongoing. In May 2014 another accusation emerged that Hemmerle sexually abused a young boy in the 1970s. Hemmerle was placed on leave by the archdiocese and the case was reported to civil authorities. He was indicted in September 2014 on three counts of sexual abuse and six counts of sodomy involving a child under the age of 12. Hemmerle was found guilty of two counts of indecent or immoral practice in November 2016 in the case of the boy who came forward as an adult in 2002. He was sentenced in Februry 2017 to seven years in jail. He was convicted in June 2017 of abuse of the second boy, and sentenced to two additional years in jail.  

: 1967


Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Louisville archbishop was Thomas Joseph McDonough (1967-1981).

1968 St. John's Louisville KY



1968 1969 St. Raphael the Archangel Louisville KY 3/3 Parish had a school with 852 students.


McDonough was replaced as archbishop by Thomas Cajetan Kelly

2001 Camp Tall Trees

Meade County

• A man reported to the archdiocese in Sept. 2001 that Hemmerle molested him in the mid-1970s at this camp, when the man was 11 years old. The man stated that he didn't want money, only assurance that Hemmerle not work with minors unsupervised, and that he receive counseling. The archdiocese did not provide such assurance, so the man went to the police.

• A second accusation that Hemmerle sexually abused a young boy in the 1970s emerged in May 2014.

KY Director; camp counselor prior to ordination, from 1957-1966.

This was a summer camp for boys in Otter Creek Park.


1969 1982 St. Thomas-St. Vincent Home Louisville KY In residence. St. Thomas-St. Vincent Home was an orphanage.
1969 Jan. 2002 Trinity High School



KY religion teacher, wrestling coach, cross country coach, track coach

Trinity High had 1360-1005 students.

Hemmerle was placed on leave in Jan. 2002 due to an accusation of sexual abuse of a boy in the mid-1970s. The archdiocese was aware of the accusation in Sept. 2001, but Hemmerle wasn't removed until the accuser went to the police.

1982 Jan. 2002 St. Bartholomew's Louisville KY 2/2, 2/3 St. Bartholomew's had a school with 232-177 students.
Jan. 2002 June 2002 On Leave       Hemmerle was reinstated by the archdiocese in June 2002. At the time of reinstatement, the police were still investigating Hemmerle, despite the archdiocese's statement that the police had cleared him.
2002 2003 Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral Bardstown KY 3/4 The Basilica had a greade school with 406 students, and a high school with 296 students.


Joseph Edward Kurtz succeeded Kelly

2014 Holy Cross Loretto KY Pastor Hemmerle is listed in the Louisville diocesan pages under "Holy Cross Cemetery Trust, Inc.".
2003 May 2014 St. Francis of Assisi St. Francis KY 1/1

St. Francis had a religious education program with 160-60 students.

Hemmerle was again
placed on leave in May 2014 after a second man reported that he was sexually abused as a young boy in the 1970s. He was indicted in Sept. 2014 on three counts of sexual abuse and six counts of sodomy involving a child under the age of 12. He was found guilty in November 2016, and sentenced  in February 2017 to seven years in jail. In June 2017 Hemmere was convicted of abusing a boy in 1977 and 1978. He was sentenced to an additional two years in jail.   

: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1968-2009)

State Police Investigate Priest on Leave from Trinity High after Abuse Allegation, By Peter Smith, The Courier-Journal [Louisville], May 9, 2002
Archdiocese Clears Priest of Abuse Claim, Restores His Ministry, By Peter Smith, The Courier-Journal [Louisville], June 1, 2002
Readers' Forum, By Don Norris, The Courier-Journal [Louisville], June 12, 2002
Authorities Haven't Dropped Investigation against Priest, Associated Press, June 13, 2002
State Police Continue to Investigate Priest, Archdiocese Had Said Case Was Dropped, By Peter Smith, The Courier-Journal [Louisville],
June 13, 2002
Covering a Sensitive Story, By Pam Platt, The Courier-Journal [Louisville], June 30, 2002
St. Francis, Holy Cross pastor on leave after sex abuse allegation, By Forrest Berkshire, Editor, The Kentucky Standard, Friday, May 9, 2014
Priest Indicted for Sex Abuse by Meade Co. Grand Jury, [Louisville, KY], September 9, 2014
Archdiocese Responds to Hemmerle Sex Abuse Indictment, WHAS, September 9, 2014
Alleged sex abuse victim speaks out after priest indicted, WHAS, September 10, 2014
Trial Scheduled for Catholic Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing Children, WHAS, December 17, 2015
 Meade County Priest Sex Abuse Trial Delayed, WLKY, January 25, 2015
Louisville priest who ran summer camp faces sex abuse trial, By Dylan Lovan, Daily Progress, November 26, 2016
Victim Testifies against Louisville Priest on Trial for Sexual Abuse Allegations, By Katrina Helmer, WDRB, November 28, 2016
Kentucky priest on trial for alleged sex abuse at 1970s camp, WLKY, November 28, 2016
Louisville priest's molestation trial begins, By Chris Kenning, Courier-Journal, November 28, 2016
Priest says he touched camper's genitals, but denies abuse, By Dylan Lovan, Daily News, November 29, 2016
Jury weighs priest's fate in molestation case, By Chris Kenning, Courier-Journal, November 29, 2016
Louisville priest found guilty of sexually abusing child at Meade County camp, By Katrina Helmer, WDRB, November 29, 2016
Priest convicted of indecent practices with child under 15, By Dylan Lovan, SFGate, November 29, 2016
Jury Recommends 7 Year Sentence for Priest Convicted of Sex Abuse, WHAS, November 29, 2016
Louisville Priest Found Guilty of Inappropriate Touching, By Charles Gazaway, WAVE, November 29, 2016
 Clergy Abuse Group Asks Archdiocese to Do More, By Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, December 8, 2016
 Kentucky priest pleads guilty in child molestation case, By Chris Turner, WDRB, May 18, 2017
 Catholic Priest Now Faces 9 Years in Prison for Sexual Abuse, Warwick Daily News, June 30, 2017



Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Hemmerle's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on March 12, 2021.