In case you have not heard, David Morrier, whom I will not call “Father” ever again, has pleaded guilty to sexual battery. Shockingly, he only received probation, but at least he will have to register as a sex offender.
It happened today, a few days ahead of the upcoming trial, which had been put off with continuance after continuance for about a year, just downtown in the Jefferson County courthouse. My long-term readers will remember how closely I’ve been following this case, because Morrier was a priest at Franciscan University and someone I had considered a friend and went to for help in the worst of circumstances. He fooled me completely as he no doubt fooled many others.
I want to draw your attention to the victim’s statement, which has been posted in its entirety on Scribd. Just take time to read that. It’s horrific, but please respect her by reading the whole thing. Remember that for doing this, David Morrier will only be serving probation as if this were a small matter.
I am sick at the thought of the horrendous sexual, physical and emotional abuse she suffered. I can’t even begin to imagine her trauma. I could barely stand to read her description of the “exorcisms” she endured, and I’m shocked once again at how “deliverance prayer” is so often and blatantly used as a form of abuse on vulnerable people. I am shocked at how irresponsibly her case was handled by Franciscan University, even after everything I know about how irresponsibly sex abuse is handled there. The corruption is appalling. Everyone who had anything to do with her case at Franciscan University ought to be deeply ashamed. I hope, as prosecutor Jane Hanelin seems to have hinted, there are legal consequences for those people as well. If, as seems likely to me, there are other victims of this abuse, I hope they come forward and are believed.
I want to express my wholehearted thanks to the victim for bringing this nightmare to light. I can’t imagine the courage it must have taken to come forward after being abused so severely and then re-traumatized by the university in such a despicable way. I admire her for her eloquent statement. I hope it brings hope to other victims. I know that it was encouraging to me, as a rape survivor myself and as someone else who was hurt by the Charismatic Catholics associated with Franciscan University (though in a very different and less serious way).
I also want to thank the Diocese of Steubenville for taking the victim’s case seriously. Based on the victim’s statement, it seems they acted exactly as they ought in every way. I’m encouraged by this, as I’ve had plenty of criticism for the diocese before.
I ask my readers to keep the victim in their prayers, and to pray for everyone who knew David Morrier and were drawn into his web of deceit. Pray for the dismantling of all unjust institutions which prey on young people and then abuse them for trying to get help. And please, trust anyone who comes to you claiming they’ve been abused. Trust them, help them, and help to break this seemingly endless cycle. The time to give priests the benefit of the doubt is long behind us.
Please don’t send your children to Franciscan University and have nothing to do with the Franciscan Third Order Regulars. I can’t imagine anything that would be worth that risk.
Image of the Steubenville courthouse via Wikimedia Commons
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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