Assignment Record – Rev. John Joseph Morse, s.j.

Summary of Case: A Jesuit priest of the Oregon Province ordained in 1961, Morse's ministry took him to the dioceses of Yakima, Spokane, Portland in Oregon and Boise. In 2006 Morse was removed from public ministry after accusations surfaced that he had sexually abused children - mostly, but not all, girls - at St. Mary's Mission on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state. His victims were said to have been as young as 5 and 6 years-old. Morse denied the allegations. In 2007 his name was on the Spokane diocese's list of "Admitted, Proven or Credibly Accused Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse." By 2011 there were than 66 individual claims against him. In February 2014 Morse was known to be residing at the Jesuit Retirement community in Spokane to which he was sent after his 2006 removal. He died August 9, 2015.

Born: December 27, 1929
Ordained: 1961
Died: August 9, 2015


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


San Francisco archbishop was John Joseph Mitty (1935-1961), followed by Joseph Thomas McGucken (1962-1977).

1962 Alma College Los Gatos CA  


Seattle archbishop was Thomas Arthur Connolly (1950-1975).

1963 Manresa Hall Point Townsend WA    


Yakima bishop was John Patrick Dougherty (1951-1969).

1966 St. Joseph's



WA 3/3 St. Joseph's had a grade school with 263-204 boys and 194-209 girls, and a high school with 232-221 boys (Marquette High School for Boys).


Spokane bishop was William Joseph Skylstad (1990-2010).

1968 St. Mary's Mission


Morse was accused, along with Jesuit brother James Gates, of sexually abusing children at St. Mary's in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Jesuits agreed in 2008 to pay a settlement to 16 former St. Mary's students, 15 women and one man. Morse's victims are said to have been as young as 5 and 6 years-old. One accuser said Morse would tell her to come to his office for "a whipping". She said he would whip her and "a whole lot more", and that if she wouldn't participate in "sexual favors" he would lock her in a dark root cellar that was full of spiders. Another accuser said Morse first raped her when she was an 11 year-old sixth grader, and that the abuse went on every day through eighth grade. She said that even after she moved in with a foster family 200 miles away, Morse tracked her down and the abuse continued.

WA 1/2 St. Mary's had a boarding school, and was on the Colville Indian Reservation.
1966 1968 St. Joseph's East Omak WA   This was a mission of St. Mary's Mission in Omak.


Portland archbishop was Robert Joseph Dwyer (1966-1974).

1972 Jesuit Missions Portland OR    


Spokane diocese.

1973 St. Mary's Mission



WA 1/3  
1972 1973 St. Joseph's East Omak WA   This was a mission of St. Mary's Mission in Omak.


Yakima bishop was Cornelius Michael Power (1969-1974), followed by Nicolas Eugene Walsh (1974-1976). Walsh was succeeded by William Stephen Skylstad (1977-1990).

1979 St. Joseph's


In a lawsuit settled in 2014, Morse was accused, along with Jesuit priests Frank Duffy and James Poole, of sexually abusing a girl between 8 and 12 years-old in the 1970s. The girl was a St. Joseph's/Marquette School student.

WA 4/5, 4/6, 1/6, 1/5, 1/9

St. Joseph's had a school with 210-350 students.

Duffy has been accused of sexually abusing at least five young girls and a vulnerable adult woman. Poole also has been the subject of multiple allegations of the sexual abuse of young girls.

1979 1980 Our Lady of Mount Virgin (Italian) Seattle WA 1/1  


Boise City bishop was Sylvester William Treinen (1962-1988).

1981 St. Stanislaus' Lewiston ID 3/3 St. Stanislaus' had a school with 151 students.


Yakima diocese.

1982 St. Patrick's Granger WA 1/1 Administrator  


Treinen was replaced as Boise City bishop by Tod David Brown (1988-1998).

1993 St. Stanislaus' Lewiston ID 2/3, 2/4, 1/2 St. Stanislaus' had a school with 138-170 students.


Portland bishop was William Joseph Levada (1986-1995).

1995 Jesuit Provincial Office

Portland OR    
    St. Ignatius Mission

St. Ignatius

Morse is said to have raped little children while they were "hung over a church-belfry railing".

MT   This assignment is per news reports.


Yakima bishop was Francis Eugene George, o.m.i. (1990-1996).

  St. Joseph's Yakima WA   This assignment is per news reports.
1995 2006 Queen of All Saints Warden WA 1/2, 1/4 Queen of All Saints had a CCD program with 90-308 students.
1998 2006 Presbyteral Council Yakima WA Executive Committee  


George was replaced as Yakima bishop by Carlos Arthur Sevilla, s.j. (1996-2011).

2006 Our Lady of Fatima Moses Lake WA 1/3

Our Lady of Fatima had a CCD program with 241-386 students.

Morse was removed from public ministry in April 2006 after allegations of past child sexual abuse emerged. Morse denied the allegations.

2006 2008         Morse is not indexed in the 2008 Directory. In 2007 his name was on the Spokane Diocese's list of Admitted, Proven or Credibly Accused Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse.


Skylstad was succeeded as Spokane bishop by Blase Joseph Cupich

2015 Regis Jesuit Community


By 2011 over 66 individual claims of past sexual abuse by Morse were made.



Morse died August 9, 2015.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1962-2012)

ML Priest Accused of Sex Abuse, Father John Morse Denies Allegations, Leaves Church, By Erin Stuber, Columbia Basin Herald , April 17, 2006
Priest Removed after Sexual Abuse Claim Filed, Jesuit Working in Yakima Denies Accusation, By Virginia de Leon, Spokesman Review, April 19, 2006
Troubled Image — Yakima Diocese Wrestles with Allegations, By Jane Gargas, Yakima Herald-Republic, May 4, 2006
Deal Allows Secrets to Remain, By John Stucke, Spokesman Review [Washington], May 4, 2007
Non-Monetary Undertakings of the Spokane Diocese, Diocese of Spokane , November 21, 2007
Jesuits Settle Indian Sex Abuse Suit, By John K. Wiley, Associated Press, January 4, 2008
Jesuits Agree to Settlement in Abuse Case, By Janet I. Tu, Seattle Times, January 4, 2008
Jesuits Settle Omak Abuse Cases, By John Stucke, Spokesman-Review, January 4, 2008
'Forgotten Children' Share Secret Shame, By Tracy Vedder, KOMO, May 10, 2009
A Safe Environment for Children & Youth, Catholic Diocese of Spokane, November 3, 2009
Lawsuits against Yakima Diocese Still Pending, By Jane Gargas, Yakima Herald-Republic, July 4, 2010
Jesuits Settle NW Abuse Claims for $166 Million, By Donna Gordon Blankinship, Seattle Times, March 25, 2011
Washington Woman Says Jesuit Priest Abuse "Every Single Day ... Was a Nightmare", By Kimberly A.C. Wilson, The Oregonian, March 25, 2011
Northwest Jesuits Will Pay $166 Million to Sex Abuse Victims in Bankruptcy Settlement, By Bryan Denson, The Oregonian, March 25, 2011
Northwest Jesuits Agree to Landmark Settlement for Hundreds of Clergy Sexual Abuse Victims, PCVA Law Firm press release, March 25, 2011
New Catholic Society Settles Landmark Sex Abuse Case with Native Americans, Yakima Herald, March 25, 2011
Jesuits Pay $166m Compensation to Sexual Abuse Victims, The Telegraph, March 26, 2011
Ken Bear Chief Reaches out to Boarding-school Survivors, By Stephanie Woodard, Indian Country Today Media Network, August 19, 2011
Suit against Wash. State Alleges Abuse at School, By Phuong Le, The Associated Press, November 22, 2011
Woman Alleges She Was Abused by Three Priests at St. Joseph in '70s, By Jane Gargas, Yakima Herald Republic, March 27, 2013
Yakima Catholic Diocese Settling 2 Abuse Lawsuits, By Jane Gargas, Yakima Herald-Republic, February 21, 2014
Obituary, Rev. John Joseph Morse, S.J., Dignity Memorial, August 9, 2015

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Morse's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on March 12, 2018.