Former Franciscan University priest is arraigned on charges of rape and sexual battery

WTRF-TV [Wheeling WV]

April 14, 2021

By D. K. Wright


JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) – Officials say, David R. 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.

The prosecution says a pattern of rape and sexual battery occurred from 2010 to 2013, until Morrier was “transferred” to Texas.

The victim reported it in 2018 to the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville.

Steubenville Police began an investigation.

The case was just presented to the Jefferson County Grand Jury, which returned indictments on one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery.

Morrier, who is out on bond while awaiting trial, appeared in court with his attorney from Cleveland.

He was cautioned to have no contact with the victim.

Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said it’s particularly troubling because a vulnerable young person seeking spiritual counseling should never be preyed upon and taken advantage of by the very religious leader she trusts.

The Diocese of Steubenville, in a news release, said Father Morrier “is not a priest of the Steubenville Diocese.”

They say they take allegations of abuse “most seriously.”

Judy Jones, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) encourages anyone who has been abused by Morrier to report it to the police department in the jurisdiction where it occurred.

“Just because he is charged in this case does not necessarily mean he’ll ever end up in prison,” she said. 

She also urges church officials to launch “a broad and aggressive effort” to find others who saw, suspected or suffered abuse by a priest.