Former Local Priest Was Cleared of Sex Abuse, a Relative Affirms

By Don Conkey
Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
April 5, 2003

A relative of a priest accused posthumously of sex abuse finally has a chance to clear the man's name.

"I am doing this for Father Bill (Morgan), because of everything that he did for me," said Mark Sennott of Sherborn.

Two years after the Rev. William H. Morgan's death in 1999, his estate was sued in Suffolk Superior Court by a nephew who said the priest molested him while he was serving at St. John's Church in Canton in the 1950s and 1960s.

Documents given to The Patriot Ledger by Sennott show that the lawsuit was eventually dropped and was formally dismissed in Suffolk Superior Court in October 2001.

Sennott said the Rev. Morgan's two sisters, one of whom is a nun, initially did not want news of dismissal of the nephew's lawsuit to reach the media.

"The family was devastated by the allegations. They are private people," said Sennott, whose mother and the late priest were cousins.

Sennott, who is not a beneficiary of the Rev. Morgan's estate, respected those wishes.

"But I also felt that we should get something into the public record about the dismissal. Over the course of time, I got them to understand," Sennott said.

Sennott said the sisters recently agreed to let him notify newspapers and other media organizations that the suit had been dismissed.

Catherine Henry, the attorney for the Rev. Morgan's estate, confirmed yesterday that the lawsuit had been dismissed.

"The suit was dropped at the request of the plaintiff," said Henry, who declined to speculate on the reason.

Henry also confirmed Sennott's explanation as to why the Rev. Morgan's sisters chose to keep the suit's dismissal quiet.

"They were very devastated by this story. First there was their brother's death, and this on top of it was very painful to them," Henry said.

"They felt that he had a good and honorable life. They were proud of their brother. And to have his reputation smeared with false allegations was devastating," she said.

"When it was over, it was over. They did not want to relive it in any way," she said.

The Rev. Morgan also served at St. Thomas More Church in Braintree, St. Paul's in Hingham and at parishes in Boston, Medford and Winthrop.

In newspaper advertisements in those communities, the plaintiff's attorneys asked victims to contact them.

"Nobody ever came forward. There was this one sole allegation, the only complaint," Henry said.

"We had done extensive discovery, both sides. If this case had merit, it would have gone forward," Henry said.

Ron Witmer, Boston-based attorney for the nephew, did not return calls seeking comment.

Sennott said he had a strong relationship with the Rev. Morgan.

"He baptized all three of my children. He was at my father's funeral. He married all of my brothers and sisters," said Sennott, 48.

"Across Massachusetts, there are many thousands of people whose lives he changed for the positive," Sennott said.

"After his death there was an allegation, and I still believe that despite all the power of the media, a person is still innocent until proven guilty," Sennott said.


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