ABERDEEN, SD -
A priest working as a chaplain in Aberdeen has lost his job after allegations of sexual harassment.
Charles Emezie was a chaplain at an Avera hospital and nursing home. Emezie no longer works for Avera and can't practice ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls either.
Emezie worked more than 18 years as a chaplain for Avera in Aberdeen. When word spread that he'd lost his job after sexual harassment allegations, Nicholas Berens was surprised.
"I think everybody is equal and the same measures should be taken no matter what, but I would expect more out of a clergyman," Berens said.
Because it's a personnel matter, administrators with Avera say they can't comment beyond saying Emezie doesn't work for Avera any longer and he didn't hurt any patients in the hospital or residents in the nursing home.
According to a statement released by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, an investigation found that reports that Emezie sexually harassed adult female staff members have been found credible. The Diocese also says Emezie's conduct violated its sexual misconduct policy.
"This demand of the church to protect those people who are entrusted to her ministries, the stakes are high. That's a moral obligation; that's a legal obligation," Matt Althoff with the Diocese said.
The policy defines conduct that isn't allowed and outlines what people should do if policy is violated. Sexual harassment is among the behaviors banned and defined within it.
"The expectation is that all who act in the name of the Church uphold this expectation, they live up to that expectation and when that fails to happen, this is what will happen," Althoff said.
The Diocese isn't saying exactly what the sexual harassment in this case involved. Berens says he doesn't need to know details. He's just thankful it's been addressed.
"They figured out what they needed to figure out and took the precautionary measures. So I'm happy they did," Berens said.
Emezie is priest of a Diocese in Nigeria. His Bishop has been told he can't practice ministry for the Sioux Falls diocese anymore.
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