Father Richard A. Emerson
Diocese of Orlando
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Richard A. Emerson:
Fr. Richard A. Emerson has had multiple lawsuits alleging sexual abuse to minors. He was ordained to the Diocese of Gary at Hoosier Boys Town (now Campagna Academy) in Schererville, Illinois, from 1983 to 1987. Emerson transferred to Orlando, where he worked in several parishes until 1992. He returned to Indiana, working in East Chicago, LaPorte, Munster, and Michigan City.
According to suits filed, Fr. Emerson was accused of sexual abuse by three boys in the Orlando Diocese and another in Illinois. The Illinois case was settled, while the three Florida cases were dismissed. In Orlando, a bishop warned officials from the Diocese of Gary of his conduct, stating that Emerson was giving inappropriate attention to two teen boys from one family. Upon returning to his home diocese, he began inviting young men to stay overnight with him at the rectory.
In 2005, Fr. Richard Emerson was accused of repeatedly sexually abusing an 11-year-old-boy from 1986 through 1991 in Orlando. He allegedly plied the victim with alcohol and pornography before the abuse, then used threats to keep him quiet. Another victim claims Fr. Emerson repeatedly abused him sexually starting in 2003 when the boy was 11 and a member of St. Thomas More parish in Munster, IN. The alleged victim said Fr. Emerson fondled him sexually and watched pornographic videos with him.
At his request, Emerson was stripped of the priesthood in 2006 and permanently laicized that same year. According to internal church correspondence obtained in the Florida cases, Gary Bishop Dale Melczek was aware of allegations against Emerson as early as 1991. Church officials began an internal investigation of Emerson in 2004, after civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse were filed against him in Florida. Emerson was allowed to continue his pastoral duties when the investigation determined the allegations were “credible” and suspended. Two more suits were filed in 2010 against Fr. Emerson. He was named publicly on the Gary Diocese’s 2018 list and Orlando’s 2020 list of Clergy Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.
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