A Most Disturbing Story – The Misconduct of Rev. George Ferris
That which brings us here today can be described as disturbing. The sexual exploitation of the young and innocent. The breach of trust by a respected religious leader. The deep and destructive effects which befalls the victim.
These are all events which every right thinking person would agree are disturbing, distressing and despicable.
Those element are all present in the case of former Reverend George Ferris and his sexual abuse of Chris Morrison. Sexual abuse which commenced when Chris was not the grown man that you see before you today, but was instead the wide-eyed boy pictured here in this Grade school photograph.
Chris was abused throughout his entire teenage years by a man whom many viewed as one of God’s servants here on earth. Recall for a moment, your own teenage years. For most of us those were years of wonder, of exploration, of growth and of excitement. For Chris it was none of these things. It was a dark time in his life due to the abuse and the effects it caused.
The wrongness and the criminal nature of that abuse was confirmed by the criminal findings made against Reverend Ferris earlier this year. For his actions against Chris alone, Ferris was sentenced to four years in federal prison. Of course we cannot forget that Chris was not his only prey. Convictions with respect to two other male victims resulted in an additional 18 month sentence.
With the conclusion of the criminal prosecution Chris found some relief from the psychological and emotional maelstrom which the abuse caused in him. But Chris doesn’t want just some temporary relief – he wants lasting healing, accountability and meaning to come from the suffering he has endured. He of course also wants compensation, as would everyone of us, for the horrible acts he had to endure and for the debilitating effect it has had on his life.
Therefore today he announces the lawsuit which he has commenced in pursuit of those goals.
But he seeks this public forum here today not only to announce his own actions but to also encourage others to act. In order to achieve full accountability and a complete understanding of what transpired here, we need to have all the pieces of the George Ferris puzzle. We need to hear from others who may have information which answers the many questions at the core of this lawsuit. Questions such as:
When did Ferris first abuse?
Did anyone, outside of his victims, know of the abuse?
When did the Anglican Church, his loyal employer over the decades, first learn of the abuse?
What, if anything did the Church do with any knowledge they did obtain?
Have all of the victims received the support and healing they deserve?
There are additional broad questions to be asked and answered. There are also specific questions. Some of the specific concerns are:
What are the details of the complaint made to the then Paris Police Force concerning Ferris in the early 1990’s?
Did the Anglican Church know that a complaint had been made to the police at that time?
What did the Church do about that?
Did the fact that Ferris was also the Paris Police Force chaplain at the time, influence the police response to that complaint?
Was it appropriate that Ferris remained in ministry after that complaint?
Only through answers to all these questions can Chris ease his mind. Only through answers to these questions can accountability be achieved. Most importantly, only through answers to these questions can we learn from the past and work to prevent such travesties from ever occurring again.
So for those to whom this applies – please – speak out.
There are a variety of methods to do that. Of course for any criminal activity by an individual the first and best step is the police. Chris commends the actions and professionalism of the Brant County detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police which handled the case. They are an effective and responsive agency to contact. Their number is (519) 442-2242.
There is also The Sexual Assault Centre of Brant which provides support to victims and their families. They are another organization which greatly assisted Chris and continues to do so to present. To contact them one can either call (519) 751-1164 or their 24 hr crisis line at (519) 751-3471.
Another valuable resource Chris has utilized is a weekly peer support group called “Hope for Men”. This group is for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Meetings are held in Hamilton, Niagara, and Halton regions and soon in Brant and Norfolk counties. Their website is hopeformen.ca
Also Chris would like to personally say as a victim speaking to other victims; you don’t have to suffer in silence alone. There is no shame. There is strength and hope by reaching out and he urges any victim to do so.
For those who want to contact Chris directly he has created an email address specific to that purpose. – the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Chris commits to hold any communications received there as confidential. He welcomes anyone and everyone to reach out with any information they may have on this case.
Finally, my office has a toll-free tips line – at 1-866-674-4994.
We hope that whoever you are and wherever you are, that the people who hold other pieces of this puzzle contact someone listed above. Only through action, not silence, can we collectively combat the evil which sexual abuse represents.