I am not strictly surprised, because I knew something like this was entirely possible. But I am shocked nonetheless.
I’ve learned that another TOR priest associated with Steubenville has been named in a sex scandal.
I woke up this morning to find that a reader had messaged me an article from this morning’s Steubenville Herald-Star. So far I have not seen a thing about it on Franciscan University’s website or social media. The relevant portion of the article reads:
Grand jurors also returned a true bill against David R. Morrier, 59, a mental health professional charged with maintaining a three-year sexual relationship with a patient.
The indictment alleges Morrier, ordained into the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance in 1997, falsely represented to a female that sexual conduct “was necessary for mental health treatment purposes.” It described the woman as “substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.”
Morrier is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery from November 2010 through the spring of 2013.
Father Morrier was a priest at Franciscan University campus until about 2013; by 2014 he had been transferred to Texas and was serving as the parochial vicar at Saint Maria Goretti parish. At Franciscan University, he was known for writing little informative pamphlets about how to deal with anger, how to visualize comforting images while meditating, and such things. As I recall, he also wrote a pamphlet about women and modest dress, with a weird clip art photo of a veiled woman on the front.
When Father Michael Scanlan, now famous for covering up the sexual misconduct of his friend Father Sam Tiesi, was my spiritual director, he directed me to go to confession to Father Morrier. He said Father Morrier knew about deliverance prayer and could help me. I didn’t get to know Father Morrier well, but I considered him a good confessor and a friend. I even sent him an invitation to my wedding in 2009, which he accepted. He ended up preaching the homily. I asked him for help when I was being bullied by another TOR priest, and he was kind about it. After the birth rape when Rosie was born, I invited him to come to my apartment and pray with me about the trauma, and he came; I remember that he modestly closed his eyes when Rosie latched on to nurse. He acted very sympathetic. I think that was the last time I ever spoke with him.
I was shocked in 2018 when Jenn Morson wrote a series of investigative articles about the culture of sexual abuse and cover-ups at Franciscan University, including a story of how Father Morrier had allegedly blamed a rape victim for getting raped and then further endangered her by talking to her rapist:
Take Annie, who after a night out fell asleep in a friend’s van in the spring of 2007. She woke up to having a male friend on top of her. “He had removed my pants and shirt and was fondling my breasts,” she said. He pinned her down and raped her, holding his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams. When Annie confided in friend what had happened, the friend went to Fr. David Morrier, then-coordinator of Household Life and campus ministry. “Father Morrier encouraged me to seek therapy, which I did. He did not encourage me to go to the police or file any kind of report.” Instead, Annie says, “He told me my behavior was compromising and encouraged me to go to confession.”
Then Morrier, without her permission, confronted the assailant. Annie said that Morrier not only violated her confidence but also put her in jeopardy. As a result, Annie’s case was never reported to any authority, and her alleged rapist faced no consequences.
If these new charges prove true, then Father Morrier was engaged in rape and sexual battery of a therapy client starting a few years after he allegedly endangered and emotionally abused another rape victim, until he was transferred away from campus, where the TORs put him to work at a parish that had an elementary school.
I encourage any other victims, FUS students or not, to step forward.
I am so sorry for everyone Franciscan University and the TORs have hurt.
I encourage people to think twice before sending their vulnerable children to Franciscan University. They keep claiming they’re committed to reform, but I just don’t see it.
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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