TEWKSBURY (CBS) – The Boston Archdiocese recently fired a well-known church deacon and prison chaplain amid accusations that he smuggled drugs into a local prison.

People who know him though are stunned, and they suspect there must be more to the story.

Most know William Emerson as “Deacon Bill” for his role at St. William Church in Tewksbury.

“He’s been here for all these years and I’ve known him as a nice man and he worked hard for this parish,” said Will Lembert, a parishioner.

WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports.

But, it was his other role as a prison chaplain that has the deacon facing drug allegations.

“He’s well liked. I’ve never heard of anything negative, so, sad if it’s true but I hope it’s not,” said Anthony Brown, a parishioner.

Emerson was fired from his job at the Middlesex House of Correction at the beginning of March, and the sheriff’s office didn’t give a reason for his recent termination.

Emerson spoke with WBZ over the phone and said he was fired because he was accused of smuggling drugs to inmates. He said those drugs were in an envelope and he never knew what was inside.

Emerson later said he has hired a lawyer.

The accusations surprised former Tewksbury selectman Joe Gill, especially since the two worked together on drug prevention programs.

“Knowing Bill knowing what he stood for, it’s not him,” said Gill. “He had formed the Tewksbury Drug Abuse Committee, mainly aimed at the young adults of Tewksbury and his mission was trying to steer him on the straight and narrow.”

So far, Emerson is not facing any charges, but along with losing his post at the prison, the Boston Archdiocese is taking away his permission to serve as a deacon.

Deacon Emerson was ordained by the archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska in 1973, and he was given the OK to practice in Boston in 1982.

Comments (22)
  1. Melissa says:

    Deac is the nicest guy I know. I have known him since I was 6mths old and I am now 31 years old. I am sure there is more to this story. In due time and Gods help the whole truth will come out. Love you very much Deac!

  2. Cynic says:

    Not to Get picky but the House of Correction is a County Jail…Not A Prison..There is a difference. Of course “Prison” does make a better Headline. Much more exciting !

  3. Susan M says:

    I don’t know the man, but when I read comments like that from “Tewksbury Midget” it really irritates me. Statements like that should be made to the police to be investigated, not just thrown out there randomly without your name. Why is it OK to anonymously accuse someone when you don’t have the nerve to put your name to it? Accusations of sexual misconduct, even when proven to be completely false, have a way of sticking to people forever.

  4. Janet Urban says:

    Deacon Bill is the most selfless and inspiring person whom I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I met him when I was 12 years old. He has baptised all 3 of my children and, at the age of 41, I still consider him a friend. I find it sad that all of his years of good work are being clouded by this accusation. I will proudly stand next to him and tell the church that they are losing an incredible asset by letting him go. It is nothing short of a tragedy to see this story take such life. Please, remember all that he has done for us and consider that before solely reporting the negative.

  5. Kristen Phillips Kane says:

    Unbelievable. Like other people have said, there has got to be more to this story. I’m so sorry that Deacon Bill is going through this. I hope and pray that this gets resolved soon.

  6. kristin waible says:

    all i have to say is its not true. we all love deac and will stand by him.he has been there for our family for many years and i could not thank him enough for that.deac just want u know i am praying for u.

  7. noonze says:

    This man has been part of my wife’s family, from a spiritual perspective, for many years. He baptized all three of my children and all of my nieces and nephews. He performed a ring ceremony at my wedding. From everything I have seen of and everything I have ever heard about Deacon Bill, it is really, really, really hard to imagine that he’s involved in any wrongdoing. He seems like a marvelous, giving man and I’ve yet to meet anyone who feels differently. If the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ has ever been true, it’s true in this case. Our prayers are with you, Deacon Bill.

  8. Joey Bangs says:

    I have known this man all my life and he is one of the greatest I have ever met and it has been a privelege to call him a friend. . He has spent most of his life being a Deacon and now the church turns their back on him. This isnt right. He has done so much for Tewksbury and its NOW OUR TIME TO HELP AND SUPPORT HIM 100%.

  9. Kathy Powers says:

    I am praying for Deacon Bill-this is just so sad because he has worked so hard to help people. I have known Deacon Bill for over 20 years; not a bone in my body believes this. I agree with Susan M’s post: “Statements like that should be made to the police to be investigated, not just thrown out there randomly without your name. Why is it OK to anonymously accuse someone when you don’t have the nerve to put your name to it?” I was thinking similarly when I read the accusations.
    I am thinking and praying for you Deacon Bill.

  10. Brian says:

    Deac is a great man, He has dedicated his life to helping others to lead a good life. he is personally responsible for saving the lives of hundreds (on many levels) and these people have gone on to help others as well. I do not believe the allegations against him for one second. I think the person that set him up should be in jail. I will keep you in my prayers Deac.

  11. Valene says:

    Deacon Bill is a good-natured, decent human being who I do not think is capable of the allegations. I have known him for over 15 years and do not believe any of it to be true. There is definitely more to this story and pray for Deacon Bill’s sake that the truth is found.

  12. Jack Durkin says:

    Deacon Bill is one of the finest examples of how clergy should conduct themselves in the world. He is the embodiment of the ideal of being Christ-like. 20 years ago I drove from Chelmsford to Tewksbury to be a part of the Teens Encounter Christ youth program that he brought to St Williams. The good this man has done for the church and larger community could not be measured. If he is guilty of anything, it is being too good a man to distrust others. Men of his calibre are in short supply, the Catholic Church needs more people like him.

  13. Tammy Metras says:

    Deacon Bill is a great man. I love you and I am praying for you Deac. He has been there for me, my daughter and my family. No matter the outcome of this, he is forever a friend and source of comfort.

  14. R says:

    Deacon Bill is a great man and has always been an inspiration and a great role model. He is a kind person and caring friend who has dedicated his life to helping those in need. I really have a hard time believing this could be true. My prayers are with you Deac.

  15. Sydney says:

    Ha. I for one totally believe it. This is the man who when my parents told him I didn’t believe in God anymore urged them to have me continue with the process of confirmation. And my mother always said he gave her the creeps…
    Also, this is just another example of how the Catholic Church asks people to do unreasonable things. If he hadn’t been a deacon no one would give a second thought to his having adult porn.

  16. Corrine says:

    Bill Emerson is my uncle and an amazing man. Please pray this gets resloved soon.

  17. aries says:

    This is my grandfather and he is the most amazing person in the world, he has done so much for me, and for some of you pigs to beleive this is true after all these good comments that you see about him, and all that he has done for everone, him being a deacon, and helping out others was his passion. your no better then any one else, leave your rude icomments to yourself.. hes completely destroyed and i can see it in his eyes..

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