Magazine article Anglican Journal

Woman Sues Priest, Church over Assaults

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Woman Sues Priest, Church over Assaults

Article excerpt

A woman who claims a priest in the diocese of Fredericton tried to kill her is suing him, the Anglican Church of Canada, the diocese of Fredericton and the Corporation of the Anglican Parish of St. Stephen (Christ Church Anglican), in St. Stephen, N.B.

Cynthia Mae Moore claims that she and the Rev. William Morton, who was rector at the Anglican Parish of St. Stephen, had an extra-marital affair between February 2012 and December 2015.

She alleges that on Nov. 24, 2015, while she was visiting Morton at his house, he threatened to skin her alive and he scraped her breasts with a box cutter, according to a statement of claim filed with the Court of Queens Bench in Saint John, N.B., October 2.

After she left, Moore alleges that Morton came to her house and attempted to kill her. "He succeeded in cutting her breasts and abdomen with a box cutter," the statement of claim reads.

Moore alleges that on December 8, 2015, Morton attacked her again and "attempted to kill her with a knife to her throat."

According to the CBC, that same day, Morton was arrested and charged with two counts of assault with a weapon after "the St. Stephen RCMP received a 911 call about a disturbance involving a man and a woman, shortly before 1 a.m." Morton, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment. He later changed his pleas to guilty of both offences on August 23, 2016.

On October 25, 2016, Morton was convicted on two counts of assault with a weapon in relation to these incidents and received two 15-month conditional sentences, to be served concurrently, and was ordered to pay a victim fine surcharge of $100 for each offence.

The statement of claim asserts that Morton breached his fiduciary relationship with Moore as her spiritual leader and counsellor when he "took advantage of her vulnerability and commenced a sexual affair, which ended in the horrific assaults on her person."

According to the document, Moore was having marital problems and began counselling sessions with Morton around March 2008.

As a result of Morton's actions, her "faith and trust in the Anglican church have been damaged," according to Moore, who says she was employed part-time at the church office, and also served as a volunteer greeter, reader and head server. She "has not been able to worship at Christ Church, Saint Stephen, has lost the sense of community she once had as a member of the Defendant Church and she struggles with feelings of betrayal by the Defendant Church," according to the statement of claim. …

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