Fr. Walter Emala – Archdiocese of Baltimore

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2023 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. Walter Emala

Archdiocese of Baltimore/Memphis/Harrisburg

Walter Emala Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1952

Removed: 1975

Died: 2008

Assignment History:

  • 1952: St. Ann Church (Nashville, TN)
  • 1952: St. Mary Orphanage (Nashville, TN)
  • 1952: Tennessee State Penitentiary (Nashville, TN) 
  • 1952-1955: St. Ann Church (Memphis, TN) 
  • 1955-1957: Holy Ghost Church (Knoxville, TN)
  • 1955-1957: East Tennessee Youth Director (Knoxville, TN)
  • 1955-1956: Knoxville Catholic High School (Knoxville, TN)
  • 1957-1959: St. Patrick Church (McEwen, TN) 
  • 1959: Sick Leave 
  • 1960-1967: Immaculate Conception Church (Knoxville, TN) 
  • 1960-1961: Immaculate Conception High School (Memphis, TN) 
  • 1967-1968: St. Ann Church (Bartlett, TN) 
  • 1968-1975: Sick Leave and Leave of Absence
  • 1968-1975: Our Lady Queen of Peace (Middle River, MD)
  • 1975: Faculties Removed by Archdiocese of Baltimore 
  • 1981-1985: St. Peter (Mount Carmel, PA)
  • 1981-1985: St. John (New Freedom, PA) 

Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father Walter Emala

Fr. Walter Emala was ordained a Catholic priest in 1952 and worked in various parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Memphis, and Nashville. In 2002, Fr. Emala was listed on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors list. In April 2023, Maryland’s Attorney General released a report alleging 156 Catholic clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over six decades. The report lists the names of the abusers, including Fr. Emala.

According to the AG’s report, in 2010, court documents relating to child sexual abuse lawsuits against the Memphis Diocese included materials about Emala. A handwritten letter from 1959 from Nashville Bishop William Adrien to Emala said: “As things stand now, we cannot entrust you with another pastorate in the diocese unless you radically change. The diocese had to pay $5,000 in bills due to Emala’s conduct. In 1966, the Pastor of St. Ann in Bartlett, Tennessee, and the Director of Vocations wrote to Joseph Durick, the Apostolic Administrator, that Emala “seems to have an abnormal obsession regarding their sex development and behavior. Emala takes young men on trips and insists on sleeping with them oftentimes in the nude. Emala made boys train and weightlift in the nude while examining them. Emala was confronted and refused to end his associations with the boys. In April 1968, Durick wrote to Emala and said he could either take an extended leave of absence outside Tennessee and keep his faculties or retire and lose them. Emala chose extended leave and moved to Maryland.

In Maryland, Fr. Emala was granted faculties and began assisting at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Middle River. In 1971, Emala requested permission from the Diocese of Memphis to seek an assignment in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the opportunity to seek incardination in the future. In June 1975, the Archdiocese received information about Emala’s behavior with multiple boys; describing an interview with Emala on June 12, 1975, said Archbishop Borders “wants him to leave assignment immediately. The Archbishop removed his faculties that month. After Emala left and before 1980, a boy reported Emala sexually abused him. He claimed Emala invited him and other boys on a hunting trip. On the trip, Emala slept next to him and fondled his genitals. The victim was in 7th grade and attended Our Lady Queen of Peace. In 1986, more investigations into Emala’s history began.

Despite having his faculties removed, Emala continued to present himself to the public as a member of the clergy. He acknowledged that he acted as a chaplain for many groups in East Baltimore and had done so for 20 years, dressed as a priest. Archdiocese of Baltimore learned that Emala was chaplain for 22 organizations, including auxiliary firefighter groups and political clubs. When told he was not permitted to function in any manner as a priest, Emala disagreed and said he would seek legal assistance to appeal. 

In January 1995, two parents reported that their son was sexually abused by Emala, beginning in 1985 when their son was approximately 13 years old. On November 30, 1994, they were woken by Emala and their son fighting. That night their son told them that Emala raped him when he was a child. Emala continued to give their son substantial sums of money as an adult. Additionally, another of their sons told them Emala took him and other boys out to social events, where he kissed them and touched their buttocks. He also supplied some of them with alcohol and marijuana. Emala took the brothers on trips to Cambridge, Maryland, and gave them alcohol and marijuana. 

In September 1995, a man reported that Emala sexually abused him when he was 12 or 13 years old in 1979 and 1980 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Middle River, Maryland. The victim became an altar boy in 1975 and assisted Emala with private masses. (After 1975 Emala was not allowed to celebrate masses publicly.) The abuse started when the victim was in 7th or 8th grade. Emala took him to ballgames and other outings. When the victim assisted Emala in celebrating a mass, Emala would kiss him in the sacristy on the mouth, hug him, and caress his buttocks. Once in the car, returning from a hockey game, Emala hugged and kissed the boy, and the victim’s mother saw it. Emala took the victim to his home four or five times and into his bedroom. Emala gave him pornography. While the victim was lying on the bed, Emala rolled on top of him, kissed him and thrust toward him. The victim went home and told his parents. The victim also told two other altar boys who said Emala tried to kiss them. 

Emala’s case was presented to the Independent Child Abuse Review Board in June and September 1995, January and April 1996, and July 1997. The minutes have been redacted. In 1995, the Archdiocese of Baltimore published an announcement about Emala, and informed the Dioceses of Memphis and Nashville and other organizations Emala may have been affiliated with, such as the Baltimore County Volunteer Fireman’s Association, Maryland State Police Alumni Association and the Middle River Volunteer Fire Company. In March 1997, a mother reported that two of her sons were sexually abused by Emala at Our Lady Queen of Peace. One of her sons said that everyone knew what Emala was doing. She named other possible victims, including the victim who reported in 2012. The Archdiocese made the mandatory report to authorities. 

In 2006, a woman reported that her husband was sexually abused by Emala in the late 1970s at Our Lady Queen of Peace. Emala showed him pornography and attempted to touch him. She also reported that Emala made her husband’s relative wrestle naked with him. In September 2012, a man reported that he was sexually abused by Emala as an altar boy from the age of 7 to 13. Emala made the victim and three other altar boys wrestle naked with him. Emala threatened that they would have to stay after school and wouldn’t be allowed to be altar boys if they told anyone. The naked wrestling took place at Emala’s mother’s home in the Oliver Beach area of Chase, Maryland. When the victim was 11 years old he began staying overnight two to three nights a week at the rectory with his parents’ permission because he served mass. Emala would climb into bed naked with the victim and hump him until Emala ejaculated or would orally rape the victim. Emala also took the victim bowling and would fondle him in the car. Emala drank heavily and gave the victim altar wine. Emala died in 2008.

Along with the Baltimore’s list, Emala’s name is included on Harrisburg diocese’s list 8/1/2018, and Knoxville’s list as of 3/6/2020.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.