Long or­deal is fi­nally over

Fam­ily: Fr Morton can hold his head high

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

On Thurs­day April 30 2015 our brother Fa­ther Paul Morton was fi­nally able to walk away from a dam­ag­ing and dis­tress­ing or­deal which lasted for eight months.

The trau­matic events for him and our fam­ily be­gan in Oc­to­ber of the pre­vi­ous year when an al­le­ga­tion was made against him by an anony­mous in­di­vid­ual. Paul was im­me­di­ately re­moved from his parish du­ties and also asked to leave the parish house.

At this point, nei­ther the Church nor Paul were aware of the na­ture of the al­le­ga­tion. Only later, when the is­sue was re­ported in the na­tional me­dia would we dis­cover, for the first time, that it con­cerned his­tor­i­cal sex abuse. That was ex­tremely dam­ag­ing for Paul.

Since the mo­ment the al­le­ga­tion was made, he has lived un­der a cloud of sus­pi­cion and ru­mour which has taken its toll on his health, emo­tional well-be­ing and on the very essence of his be­liefs.

The full de­tails of this al­le­ga­tion were never re­vealed to Paul, our fam­ily or his lawyer un­til last Thurs­day evening when he stepped into Hamil­ton po­lice sta­tion for an in­ter­view which lasted less than an hour.

Shortly af­ter that in­ter­view we were in­formed of the dis­missal of the al­le­ga­tion and ces­sa­tion of all fur­ther po­lice ac­tion on the is­sue. On hear­ing the de­tails, it was quite clear that Paul had been the vic­tim of an un­war­ranted and in­com­pre­hen­si­bly malev­o­lent act per­pe­trated by a ma­li­cious in­di­vid­ual.

Sadly, due to the present legal po­si­tion, the in­di­vid­ual against whom an al­le­ga­tion is made is never privy to the de­tail un­til he or she is to be charged or not charged. This in­evitably cre­ates a sit­u­a­tion where a per­son has no op­por­tu­nity to de­fend him­self or her­self against an ac­cu­sa­tion.

Paul had been de­nied nat­u­ral jus­tice - the right to prove his in­no­cence.

It is ob­vi­ous that suf­fer­ing such an ex­pe­ri­ence over a long pe­riod of time will have health im­pli­ca­tions for any in­di­vid­ual and that has been very true for Paul. There are lessons in all of this to be learned by the Church, the legal sys­tem and the me­dia.

Our fam­ily wish to make clear for the public record that, with the dis­missal of the al­le­ga­tion, Paul has been com­pletely ex­on­er­ated. His in­no­cence, which he has main­tained from the be­gin­ning, has fi­nally been con­firmed.

We wish also to make it clear that at no time was he charged with any of­fence and that the po­lice en­quiry is now of­fi­cially ended.

We, his fam­ily, wish to af­firm that the in­tegrity of this ded­i­cated, hon­est and prin­ci­pled man is in­tact and we know that his rep­u­ta­tion will be im­me­di­ately re­stored. With­out doubt, he will go on to sur­mount the huge dam­age which has been done to his life and we know that he will con­tinue to give hon­ourable ser­vice with his head held high.

The fam­ily wish to ex­press their heart­felt thanks to the parish­ioners and friends who have stood by him. Your sup­port and prayers have sus­tained both him and our fam­ily in th­ese dark days.

Fran­cis Morton, Gerald Morton, Robert Morton, Michael Morton, Anne Marie Morton and Ber­nadette Morton.

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