ML Priest Accused of Sex Abuse
Father John Morse Denies Allegations, Leaves Church

By Erin Stuber
Columbia Basin Herald
April 17, 2006

MOSES LAKE -- A priest at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church has been accused of sexual abuse and has withdrawn from his position.

In a letter to parishioners dated April 12 and handed to churchgoers this Easter Sunday, Father John Morse stated that he had received a call from his religious superior, Father John Whitney who is the provincial for the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, informing him of the allegations.

"These allegations refer to my days some 35-40 years ago while working in the area around Omak, Washington, though we have not yet received any further details," Morse wrote.

At the request of Whitney and Bishop Carlos Sevilla of Yakima, Morse stated, he is withdrawing from all public ministry, "and will go to live with my Jesuit brothers until these charges can be answered and my name cleared."

Morse denied the allegations in his letter.

"I want you to know that I categorically deny that I have ever abused another person, and certainly not a child. I am deeply saddened by these allegations and pray that I will be exonerated once a full investigation is complete."

Morse has served at Our Lady of Fatima for at least 10 years.

Representatives at Our Lady of Fatima were unable to give any further information about the case and other priests were unavailable for comment.

Though Our Lady of Fatima is a parish in the Diocese of Yakima, officials there were also unable to comment.

The office of the Society of Jesus of the Oregon Province, a religious order of the Catholic Church also known as the Jesuits, was closed Monday in continuance of the Easter holiday.


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