January 07, 2005

Police re-examine priest case


By Frank Wiget / Post-Tribune staff writer

Florida officials are taking a stronger look at sex abuse allegations against a Diocese of Gary priest while he was on temporary assignment in Orlando between 1987 and 1991.

The claims against the Rev. Richard Emerson, 52, will get a renewed criminal investigation, said Randy Means, director of investigations for the Orange-Osceola counties state attorney’s office, because Orlando police never contacted the victim — leaving officials to believe the case had no merit.

The alleged victim, now 29, told the Orlando Diocese in May he had been molested by Emerson when he was between 11 and about 16 years old. The victim alleges the abuse continued in the two years after Emerson returned to Indiana.

Emerson was suspended from pastoral duties Dec. 16 at Notre Dame Church in Long Beach in LaPorte County.

Although Emerson professed his innocence to Gary Diocese officials, church officials found enough credible evidence to forward the case to the Vatican for review. Officials there could at some point schedule a church trial on the charges.

Posted by kshaw at January 7, 2005 05:17 AM