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Man sues priest, two dioceses over sex abuse claims

A man who says a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused him as a child the priest and the dioceses of Orlando and Gary, Ind., Wednesday.

The plaintiff, now 29, claims the Rev. Richard Emerson repeatedly molested him from 1986 through 1991, plying him with alcohol and pornography beforehand. He claims Emerson then used threats to keep him quiet. He claims the dioceses covered up the crimes and protected Emerson.

The suit filed in Orange Circuit Court identifies the plaintiff only as "John Doe." It says he and Emerson met at St. Charles Borromeo School in Orlando. It asks for more than $15,000 in damages.

Emerson, suspended last month as pastor of Notre Dame Church in Long Beach, Ind., has denied the accusations.

"We hope this lawsuit will protect children and will bring out the truth surrounding the facts about the ministry of Father Emerson," said the plaintiff's attorney, Joe Saunders of Pinellas Park.

The dioceses had not seen the lawsuit and refused comment.

Emerson worked at three Orlando parishes: St. Charles Borromeo, St. Peter's Catholic Church in DeLand and Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando.