Morrissey: Father Robert Morrissey

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Robert J  Morrissey

Bob Morrissey

Brother Frederick

(prior to ordination Morrissey was a Christian Brother.  He was known as Brother Frederick.  As a twenty-year-old in the early 60s he supervised boys at Christian-Brothers-operated-school  St. John’s Training School, in Uxbridge, Ontario.  The sex abuse allegations stem from his time at the training school)

Priest, Diocese of London, Ontario.  Ordained 15 October 1971. 1992: Charges of attempted buggery, indecent assault, gross indecency and assault causing bodily harm.  CONVICTED.   (offences transpired while, as a 20-year-old, Morrissey was a teacher and supervisor at St. John’s training school in Uxbridge, Ontario.) Sentenced to 18 months.  Morrissey  appealed the conviction.  The conviction on several charges of sex and physical abuse were set aside and a new trial ordered.  The appeal on the  conviction on one charge related to physical abuse was dismissed.    The outcome of the order for a new trial is unknown.

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Bishops of London Diocese from time of Father Marshall’s ordination to present:

Gerald Emmett Carter  (17 February 1964 – 29 April 1978 -Appointed, Archbishop of Toronto, Ontario)   John Michael Sherlock (7 July 1978 – 27 April 2002 ); Ronald Peter Fabbro, C.S.B. (27 Apr 2002 – – )

Auxiliary Bishops: John Michael Sherlock (25 June 1974 — Bishop: 7 Jul 1978); Marcel André J. Gervais (19 Apr 1980 – 3 May 1985); Frederick Bernard Henry (18 April 1986 -o 24 Mar 1995);  Richard John Grecco (5 December 1997 – 27 April 2002); Robert Anthony Daniels ( 21 September 2004 to 1 March 2011)

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14 March 1995:  Court of Appeal for Ontario – ruling by Justices Osborne, Doherty and Laskin – sex abuse and other convictions against Father Robert Morrissey dismissed – one physical abuse conviction upheld

11 February 1993: R. v. Morrissey: Between Her Majesty the Queen, and Robert Morrissey, Accused

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The following information is drawn from the Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, the 1980 Ontario Catholic Directory (OCD), media (M) and R. v. Morrissey (R v Morrissey)

2014:  Back in Ontario – bought new home in Grand Bend (P)  – children around local beach (P)

2012:  address on 74th Street, Camrose, Alberta (CCCD)

2011, 2010:  apartment on McGarrell Dr., London, Ontario (CCCD)

2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993:  address c/o diocesan centre Diocese of London, Ontario (CCCD)

14 March 1995:  Court of Appeal for Ontario – ruling by Justices Osborne, Doherty and Laskin – sex abuse convictions dismissed – physical abuse conviction upheld

1995:  conviction appealed.  Conviction set aside on several counts and new trial ordered.  Appeal on one count dismissed and conviction on one count of physical abuse stands.  Outcome of order for new trial unknown

February 1993:  sentenced to 18 months

1992: sex abuse trial. CONVICTED

address for the diocesan centre for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta  8421 – 101 st. Ave., Edmonton, Alberta 403-469-1010 (what was he doing out there?) (Archbishop McNeil) (CCCD)

1991:  Pastor at Our Lady of the Prairies in Daysland, Alberta, with missions at St. Boniface in Spring Lake, St. Joseph in Bawif, St. Elizabeth in Rosalind, St. Martin in Heisler, and Saint Mary in Forestburg  (what’s he doing out West? In the Archdiocese of Edmonton?) (Joseph McNeil, Archbishop) (CCCD) (I have been told by a reliable source that Fathers Morrissey and Gary Roy headed West to the Archdiocese of Edmonton at the same time, the exact year of departure is presently unknown.  The pair were good friends, so much so that Roy had named his cat Morrissey)

Seems he was under investigation in late 1991.  In November 1991 had a severe heart attack.  (R. v. Morrissey)

Charges laid in November 1991?

served served somewhere as hospital chaplain – hospital and dates unknown (R. v. Morrissey)

1985-86:  not listed in index, but shown as Pastor at Immaculate Heart RC Church in Grand Bend, Ontario (CCCD)

1980:  Sacred Heart RC Church in Ingersoll, Ontario with Msgr. V,H, Grespan (CCCD)

1971-72:  St. Michael RC Church, London, Ontario (Pastor Msgr. J.A. Feeney) (Carter) (CCCD)

1971:  ORDAINED – as a priest for the Diocese of London, Ontario

1969:  Left the Christian Brothers.  Entered St. Peter’s Seminary, London, Ontario   (R. v. Morrissey) (Carter must have agreed to take him in as a diocesan priest in the Diocese of London, Ontario)

1968:  B.A. from University of Windsor, Ontario

June 1967:  rejoined the Christian Brothers

1962:  Left the Christian Brothers. “was refused his vows in April of that year with the notation concerning him, ’devoted to class work and religious obligations, evidence of emotional immaturity and of indiscretion, pleasant character.’”.    (R. v. Morrissey).

December 1961: transferred to Montreal, Qubec (R. v. Morrissey)

1960-61:  supervisor and teacher at St. John’s, Uxbridge, Ontario.  Morrissey was age 20 at the time.  The 1993 conviction offences relates to sex abuse offences committed during his time at St. John’s. (M)

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February, 1993: Father Robert Morrissey is sentenced to 18 months’ probation on charges of attempted buggery, indecent assault and assault. He appeals in March 1995, but the appeal is dismissed.

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/goodfather/timeline.html

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New trials ordered for priest, father

Vancouver Sun

16 March 1995

TORONTO — The Ontario Court of Appeal has set aside sex-assault convictions of a Roman Catholic priest and a father of two young children, saying judges at their trials misunderstood key areas of evidence.

In separate rulings Tuesday, the court ordered new trials for Rev. Robert Morrissey and the father, who was identified only as “G.G.”

The charges against Morrissey, 55, involved allegations dating from the early 1960s when he was a Brother of the Christian Schools and working at St. John’s Training School in Uxbridge, Ont.

After a trial in Whitby, the priest was convicted of four charges and sentenced to 18 months. But in the appeal hearing last September, lawyer Brian Greenspan argued that the trial judge seriously misunderstood the evidence of two complainants.

The court concluded the misunderstandings amounted to a miscarriage of justice.

Morrissey was serving as a parish priest in Daysland, Alta., at the time the charges were laid.

The other case involved convictions for sexual assault causing bodily harm, sexual interference and assault related to alleged abuse of a father’s five-year-old daughter after he and his wife separated. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

The appeal court found that in view of the lack of physical evidence to support the child’s allegations of serious abuse, the trial judge “misapprehended” other evidence as bolstering the allegations.

Justice John Laskin said the trial judge “took evidence which did nothing more than reflect the normal reaction of a loving parent in the appellant’s position and turned it into evidence confirmatory of bizarre sexual behaviour.”

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Appeal court quashes sex-assault convictions New trials ordered because judges misunderstood evidence, rulings say

The Toronto Globe and Mail

Wednesday, March 15, 1995

Thomas Claridge  Courts Reporter

TORONTO – The Ontario Court of Appeal has set aside sex-assault convictions of a Roman Catholic priest and of a father of two young children, saying judges at their trials misunderstood key areas of evidence.

In two rulings released yesterday, a three-judge panel of the court said a trial judge’s “misapprehension” of evidence is not usually an error in law, which normally forms the only basis for an appeal to overturn a lower-court verdict, but such a misinterpretation of evidence can lead to a miscarriage of justice.

Concluding that this had happened in both cases, the court ordered new trials for Rev. Robert Morrissey and the father, who was identified only as “G.G.”

The charges against Father Morrissey, 55, involved allegations dating from the early 1960s when he was a Brother of the Christian Schools and working at St. John’s Training School in Uxbridge.

After a trial in Whitby, the priest was convicted of four charges and sentenced to 18 months. But in the appeal hearing last September, lawyer Brian Greenspan argued that the trial judge seriously misapprehended the evidence of two complainants.

Accepting the argument, the court concluded that in the circumstances the misunderstandings amounted to a miscarriage of justice and a new trial must be ordered.

Speaking for the court, Mr. Justice David Doherty said that although the judge’s verdict could not be said to be unreasonable, “a verdict must be based exclusively on the evidence adduced at trial.

“Where a trial judge is mistaken as to the substance of material parts of the evidence and those errors play an essential part in the reasoning process resulting in a conviction, then, in my view, the accused’s conviction is not based exclusively on the evidence and is not a ‘true’ verdict.”

He added that such convictions “sit on no firmer foundation than those based on information derived from sources extraneous to the trial.”

Judge Doherty said the judge’s misapprehension “obscured numerous differences of events described by the two complainants. The cumulative effect of these errors was significant in that it infected the very core of the reasoning process which culminated in the conviction of the appellant on the four counts.”

Father Morrissey was serving as a parish priest in Daysland, Alta., at the time the charges were laid.

The other case involved convictions for sexual assault causing bodily harm, sexual interference and assault. The convictions related to alleged abuse of a father’s five-year-old daughter after he and his wife separated. He was sentenced to four years in penitentiary.

The appeal court concluded that in view of the lack of physical evidence to support the child’s allegations of serious abuse, the trial judge misapprehended other evidence as bolstering the allegations.

Speaking for the panel, Mr. Justice John Laskin said the trial judge “took evidence which did nothing more than reflect the normal reaction of a loving parent in the appellant’s position and turned it into evidence confirmatory of bizarre sexual behaviour.”

Beyond that, he said, the judge misapprehended the evidence of experts, failed to appreciate the significance of the absence of physical evidence of abuse and “erroneously concluded that the factors she relied on were capable of supporting, and did support, (the child’s) allegations.”

Judge Laskin said that even if none of the errors could be characterized as an error in law, “I would set aside the appellant’s conviction on the basis of miscarriage of justice.” He added, “However the errors are characterized, they were errors on findings central to the trial judge’s determination of guilt.”

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Canadian Press

16 April 1993

LONDON, Ont. (CP)

A Catholic bishop has angered victims’ right advocates by publicly proclaiming the innocence of a former priest convicted of buggery and indecent assault of boys.

Bob Morrissey has appealed his 1992 conviction, insisting he is innocent “and I believe him. I think there has been a misunderstanding,” Bishop John Sherlock told the Easter edition of the London diocese’s newsletter.

Victims’ supporters quickly condemned the bishop’s comments distributed through the newsletter to about 100 parishes in this southwestern Ontario city.

“He has used that position of power in order to send out a message that will silence future victims,” said Cat Charissage, executive director London’s Sexual Assault Centre

“If what he is trying is to show kindness and compassion for Father Morrissey, he has done it at the expense . . . of any man or woman who is thinking of coming forward.”

Morrissey was convicted last year of five charges, including attempted buggery and indecent assault of boys and sentenced to 18 months in jail. He had worked in parishes in southwestern Ontario and Alberta.

“I’ve spent hours and hours and hours with him (Morrissey), and I believe him,” Sherlock said in an interview Thursday.

“There was no desire to deny the guilt of some who have been convicted,” he said.

“I know that sexual abuse has taken place (in the church) and I’m deeply regretful and ashamed about it. But not everybody who is accused is guilty.”

Sherlock noted there were nearly 400 letters of support written to the judge attesting to Morrissey’s character.

But Julie Lee, executive director of London’s Battered Women’s Advocacy Centre, said Sherlock’s comments show an “inappropriate regard for the judicial system,” and perpetuate a myth that sexual abusers cannot also be seemingly good people.

“It’s archaic that someone who represents the church would be in contempt of what the community has established as the standards for due process,” she said.

The sexual abuse charges stemmed from the early 1960s when Morrissey taught and supervised a dormitory at St. John’s Training School, a Catholic-run detention centre in Uxbridge, north of Toronto.

Morrissey was not a priest at the time. He was removed from his parish when charges were laid about two years ago.

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Canadian Press

11 February 1993  22.18 EST

WHITBY, Ont. (CP)

A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in jail for sex crimes against boys he supervised at a reform school 30 years ago.

Rev. Robert Morrissey, 52, who has worked in parishes in southwestern Ontario and Alberta, was convicted last year of five charges, including attempted buggery and indecent assault.

Morrissey, now of London, Ont., taught and supervised a dormitory at St. John’s Training School, a Catholic-run detention centre in Uxbridge, Ont., north of Toronto, between 1960 and 1961.

He is the only priest among 28 Christian Brothers, former brothers and staff charged after an investigation into St. John’s and a Catholic-run school in Alfred, east of Ottawa.

Morrissey sat expressionless and declined an opportunity to speak before sentencing.

Justice John Kerr of the Ontario Court’s general division in Whitby, just east of Toronto, called the case unique because of the length of time since the offences and the absence of evidence the priest later committed similar crimes.

“Instead, there was sworn character evidence at the trial which painted a glowing picture of the accused as a dedicated, hardworking, compassionate and effective priest,” the judge said.

During a three-week trial, former St. John’s inmates, now men in their mid-40s, related a litany of degrading abuse by the clergyman.

Morrissey has worked at several London parishes and was pastor of congregations in Grand Bend, Ont., and Our Lady of the Prairies in Daysland, Alta., southweast of Edmonton.

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Canadian Press

October 19, 1992

WHITBY, Ont. (CP)

A Roman Catholic priest charged with sexual assaulting boys in his care more than 30 years ago doesn’t fit the profile of a homosexual pedophile, a psychiatrist testified Monday.

And Father Robert Morrissey would have to be a homosexual pedophile to have done what the seven charges he faces suggest, said Dr. Basil Orchard, an expert in the field of diagnosing deviant sexual behavior.

The doctor testified as a defence witness at the trial of Morrissey, who was known as Brother Frederick when he taught at St. John’s Training School, a Roman Catholic-run reform school in Uxbridge, Ont., in the 1960s.

Morrissey, 52, of London, Ont., was a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools when he taught and supervised boys at St. John’s.

He has pleaded not guilty to seven charges in this community east of Toronto, including attempted buggery, indecent assault, gross indecency and assault causing bodily harm.

He is one of 28 former Christian Brothers and employees from St. John’s and St. Joseph’s training school in Alfred, Ont., facing charges.

Orchard told Justice John Kerr of Ontario Court’s general division that he drew his conclusions after a three-hour interview with Morrissey and from the results of a psychological examination.

The doctor said he formed the opinion Morrissey was a person to whom his guiding principles of life were important and who would have had to break those principles to behave as the charges allege he did.

He was a person whose sexual interests would be in heterosexual relationships, court was told.

The trial continues.

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Complaints against priests kept secret, bishop testifies

 
Toronto Star
15 October 1992
Philip Mascoll

A high official of the Roman Catholic Church has admitted files containing complaints against priests – including those of sexual misconduct – are kept secret.

These files are kept secret by bishops of dioceses because the information they contain could be damaging to the priests against whom the complaints are leveled, Bishop John Michael Sherlock told a court yesterday.

Sherlock, who is Roman Catholic bishop of the London, Ont., diocese, responsible for parishes in the nine counties of southwest Ontario and an expert on canon (church) law, made his revelation of the secret files during his evidence on behalf of Father Robert Morrissey, 52, of London.

Morrissey, also known as Brother Frederick, was a member of the lay order Brothers of the Christian Schools when he supervised problem children at St. John’s Training School, a Roman Catholic- run reform school in Uxbridge, north of Metro.

Morrissey is being tried in Ontario Court, general division, in Whitby on seven charges, including attempted buggery, indecent assault, gross indecency and assault causing bodily harm.

He is one of 28 former Christian Brothers and employees from St. John’s and another Catholic-run training school – St. Joseph’s Training School in Alfred, east of Metro – facing charges dating back five decades.

The bishop was one of the first witnesses called yesterday, as Morrissey’s lawyer, William Markle, opened the case for the defence.

“I have never had a greater positive reaction from people (parishioners) than I have had about Father Morrissey,” the Bishop told Mr. Justice John Kerr.

He had known Morrissey since 1974 and regarded him as a personal friend.

The bishop had appointed Morrissey as priest in the new parish of Grand Bend because “I was totally convinced he would give it the leadership it needed,” he said.

He had also moved Morrissey to the diocese of Edmonton where he became the parish priest of Our Lady of the Prairies in Daysland, Alta.

In answer to questions from Crown Attorney Mary Lou Dickie during her cross- examination, the bishop went on to say that, in the past five years, rules on how the church treats complaints of this type have changed in response to recommendations by Canadian bishops following incidents involving priests.

Allegations levelled at priests are referred immediately to a church committee appointed to deal with them and are reported to the police.

The church then carries out a parallel investigation to the police probe, he said.

Rumors are also now thoroughly investigated, the bishop said.

“Before there was a hesitancy to deal with rumors,” he said.

If charges or rumors are proved true, the church usually sends the offending priest to a centre for assessment and counselling, the bishop said.

It was “not uncommon” for priests to ask to go for the assessment process because of depression and other problems, Sherlock said.

Priests could also be fired if allegations against them prove true, the bishop said.

“There is a much greater awareness now that things such as these occur,” he said.

“This awareness was not present in the 1960s, either in the church, or society in general.”

The bishop told the court the Christian Brothers was an international religious organization with a “Pontifical right,” which meant it was not under the authority of any bishop, but came directly under the Vatican.

Other defence witnesses heard yesterday came from the Alberta and southwestern Ontario parishes that Morrissey had overseen. All said they had never heard a complaint about his morals or conduct.

Earlier in the trial, a 46-year-old man told the court that in 1961, when he was a 14- year-old at St. John’s, his penis had been fondled by Brother Frederick, who approached him in a bathroom and accused him of masturbating.

The man went on to explain to the crown attorney that at St. John’s, where he had served two terms as what was then known as a juvenile delinquent, masturbation was regarded as a sin.

Brother Frederick then started to fondle his penis, he said.

“I just stood there – I should have done something,” the man said, his voice again breaking.

Brother Frederick then used his other hand to take his own penis out from under his cassock, the man said.

“He grabbed my right hand and pulled me toward him. I pulled away.”

Asked by the defence lawyer why he had not reported the incident, the man said he felt that reporting a Brother would be like reporting a police officer.

The trial continues today.

6 Responses to Morrissey: Father Robert Morrissey

  1. heather brown says:

    *This sickens me.  My son Michael Witzel died in 1977 on May 6th and there was a time before he died that  Father Morrissy was called to spend time with little Michael.  I have one question  Did he ever touch my son.  I don’t even know if the Father is alive but I don’t suppose he would give an honest answer

  2. Brad Shortt says:

    *I am concerned that the employees at the St John Training school (not the priests) will be working with children due to the fact we did not have a registry for sexual offenders at that time and these people would just move onto others.

    How would anyone know who they are and if they worked at the school and were part of the problem.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Brad

    I will eventually be adding information to the site on the Christian Brothers/Alfred/St. John scandal in Ontario.  The names of any laymen who were charged in connection to that scandal should surface.  I have posted the names of laymen who were molesting boys at Mount Cashel and will do likewise for Alfred/St. John.  If you have any names and/or media coverage to pass along please send to me at: cornwall@theinquiry.ca.  If, however, there were laymen who were molesting who were never charged, sued or publicly accused we have no way of knowing who they are.

  4. Bill says:

    I’m under the impression that there was a time limit to have had the complaints heard from the boys that were abused by the Christian Brothers and staff at the school. I was one and was there for years. Brother Bernard and Brother Joseph were the culprits in my buggery,the doctor also did assaults on me,not to mention that the Bartons were in on abuse of the boys. I feel sorry to say as I’m sure they have children and grand children,but your father and grandfather were bastards to us.One a son and councilor, the other was the shop teacher. I was asked by my foster mom if these things went on and in my embarrassment never spoke out to her but now that I’m older and it has been such an effect on my life it must come to the surface and be presented to the authorities even tho I’m sure the brothers are dead by now.
    Please send me some information as how I can proceed to find out how to lodge these complaints properly so I’m not wasting my time and not getting the run around by people who are in the back pocket by the Christian Brothers.My story should be heard and I recommend other boys that suffered there should come forward and talk so this does not just get swept under the rug.I don’t see why there should be a time limit to this for any reason. If a female was raped when she was a child I’m sure she could come forward and have charges laid forever against that person. Why should this have any difference. Its not apples and oranges we are talking about here. This school was just wrong and should have stood forever in those fields to remind Uxbridge just what was going on to these kids like me that played hockey in they’re arena and worked at they’re newspaper and collected they’re garbage every week.Yes,I worked in the community and played hockey with them. Some things you get when you play by the rules.But I never did see a dime of money for the work I did. Nadda!!
    Putting up a splash pad and new ball diamonds and such is just a way of sweeping away the truths in that community. Such a sin to forget about what the real story was behind those walls. None of those young boys asked for what they got. I didn’t and think almost daily about it.

    • Miecul says:

      There is no time limit here in Canada to press charges unless they are dead. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. You’re right not to keep it inside no matter what. Every story is important, every victim should be heard. Good for you Bill. Sylvia is in the know and is a wealth of information. So are a few others here. They will chime in.

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