STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) — SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is calling for an investigation into what Franciscan University of Steubenville knew about its former priest, Father David Morrier.
Morrier admitted to a single count of sexual battery and was sentenced to five years probation earlier this year for abusing a student he was counseling. He is required to register as a sex offender.
Morrier, while working as a priest at Franciscan University, allegedly convinced a student he was counseling that having sex with him was necessary for mental health treatment purposes.
SNAP says that documents that have recently come to light about the abuse of the the student by the priest are “troubling.”
SNAP said this in a statement:
“We do know that Fr. Morrier is a convicted & registered sex offender who targeted and preyed on an extremely vulnerable student. The published documents detail additional very troubling accusations that call into question the integrity and truthfulness of this Catholic college.
Enough is enough, light needs to be shined into this dark corner. The troubled young woman at the center of the scandal, and any others like her, deserved to be protected by Franciscan University, not to have exploitation by Fr. Morrier buried and ignored. The only way to ensure that such a travesty does not happen again is to uncover the complete truth.”
Representatives from Franciscan University of Steubenville stated that they are “saddened, angered, and continue to be repentant for the harm caused by Father Morrier, who is currently serving out his sentence for his crime of sexual battery.”
They say they pray for Morrier’s victim.
Franciscan University says its community is provided with required training on how to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct. They say they have implemented additional protocols and standards for clergy and non-clergy employees engaged in counseling and spiritual advising, including standards on appropriate methods of communication and limitations on physical contact between advisors and advisees.
The college outlines these additional improvements they have made:
- a confidential student advocacy office and Title IX officer
- a memoranda of understanding with the TORs and religious groups situated at FUS and engaging in ministry that requires mandatory reporting to the University’s Title IX Coordinator on allegations of sexual misconduct
- a standing committee of lay persons to oversee FUS’s policies and procedures for responding to sexual misconduct
- a requirement that all clerics working on campus be of good standing with their respective religious order, pass a criminal background check, and complete safe environment training
- prohibiting exorcism
- other steps that may be found here under the “Historical Review” and “Timeline.”
The school says its policies and procedures have improved over the last 10 years and are compliant with current law and guidance from the Department of Education. The University continues to be vigilant in an effort to prevent sexual misconduct in the future.
Anyone who experienced or is aware of sexual misconduct at Franciscan University is encouraged to make a report to the University and/or the Steubenville Police Department (740-282-5353). Anonymous reports may be made to the University through EthicsPoint (EthicsPoint.com or 844-521-7816). To speak to someone at Franciscan directly, please contact the Title IX/EEO Coordinator Ann Booth (firstname.lastname@example.org; 740-283-4338).
The college says following Father Morrier’s recent guilty plea for the crime of sexual battery, the TORs, the University, and the victim of Father Morrier’s conduct reached a mutually agreeable settlement. The specific terms are confidential by agreement of all parties and out of respect for the victim’s privacy, the parties have agreed to have no further comment on the settlement or the events giving rise to it.