January 05, 2005

Bishop defends diocese’s system


By Frank Wiget / Post-Tribune staff writer

GARY — The Most Rev. Dale Melczek, bishop of the Diocese of Gary, on Tuesday defended last month’s handling of the Rev. Richard Emerson’s suspension as pastor of Notre Dame Church in Long Beach, near Michigan City.

Emerson cannot be around children or conduct any ministerial duties, Melczek said. He was placed on administrative leave in December based on complaints made in May.

The six-month period drew complaints from a national sex abuse group as well as from representatives of the victim.

Melczek said Emerson has denied any sexual misconduct with the now 29-year-old Florida man who told the Orlando Diocese on May 25 he had been abused by Emerson when the priest worked there from 1987 to 1991. The alleged victim said the sexual acts occurred when he was between the ages of 11 and 18.

The bishop said he was waiting for the Orlando police investigation to be completed before the Gary Diocese emergency response team conducts an investigation.

Posted by kshaw at January 5, 2005 06:50 AM