Father Richard A. Emerson
Diocese of Orlando
- 08/01/1978: Assistant Pastor – Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Hammond
- 01/25/1983: Temporary Administrator – Cathedral of the Holy Angels, Gary
- 10/10/1987: Left to serve in Diocese of Orlando, Florida until 1991
- 12/02/1991: Pastor – Assumption, East Chicago
- 07/01/1994: Pastor – St. Joseph, LaPorte
- 01/15/1996: Pastor – St. Thomas More, Munster
- 07/01/2003: Pastor – Notre Dame, Michigan City
- 12/18/2004: Administrative Leave
- 07/30/2006: Laicized
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, Indiana, 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. 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.
Emerson served as a priest in Florida from 1987-91, but Orlando Bishop Norbert Dorsey requested he be moved back to his home diocese in Gary in 1991, claiming Emerson had been “giving inappropriate attention to two teen sons of a particular family, especially the 15-year-old.” In 2004, Gary Bishop Dale Melczek recommended Emerson be removed from the priesthood in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI. Melczek wrote that several priests and lay people had expressed concerns about Emerson having inappropriate relationships with minor boys since 1992. He later said sexual abuse was never explicitly reported. In one instance in 2004, three women from St. Thomas More Parish in Munster accused Emerson of engaging in inappropriate conduct with a boy. Melczek reportedly intended to take the accusation to judicial trial, but never got that far because Emerson applied for laicization.
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.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Orlando in Florida. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Florida, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Florida and nationwide. We can help.