A former friar from the Franciscans of St. Francis in Loretto, who authorities say is accused of raping a student in Ohio, pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.
David Morrier pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual battery and was released with no bail during his arraignment Wednesday in Steubenville, Ohio.
The incident allegedly occurred at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
The victim was a student at the time when the crime took place between 2010 to 2013, but only came to light a few years ago.
The prosecutor in this case, Jane Hanlin, says Morrier used his position as a counselor with the victim to make her believe that engaging in sexual activity with him would help with the mental health issues she was having.
The Franciscan Friars Third Order Regular of Saint Francis Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, located in Loretto, released the following statement:
“[Thursday], the Third Order Regular Franciscans, Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, learned that Fr. David Morrier, a member of the Province, was charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery by a grand jury in Jefferson County (OH). The alleged charges occurred between November 2010 and the spring of 2013.
Fr. Morrier was removed from public ministry in 2015 due to allegations of sexual misconduct. He has not exercised public ministry since that time. Being removed from public ministry means that he has not publicly celebrated Mass or any sacraments. The Province has cooperated fully with the investigation into this matter.
The Province takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and urges anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct to call law enforcement officials immediately.”