Long ordeal is finally over
Family: Fr Morton can hold his head high
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.