ALEXANDRIA, La. (ABP) – A former Louisiana Baptist preacher was sentenced to 25 years in prison Oct. 3 for sexual abuse of a young female relative.
Holland Farrell McMorris, 64, was arrested in June 2010 and charged with 15 counts of aggravated incest. Two months later a grand jury increased the number of charges to 473, indicting McMorris on 157 counts of aggravated incest, 157 counts of sexual battery, 157 counts of molestation of a juvenile and two counts of attempted aggravated rape.
Authorities say the crimes occurred between May 2006 and August 2009 when the victim was between 11 and 14 years old. She is now 16 and has undergone counseling.
The 2009 Louisiana Baptist Convention annual listed McMorris as pastor of Paradise Baptist Church in Ball, La. The 80-member congregation founded in 1952 is listed in online directories of both the Louisiana Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention.
Quoted by the Alexandria Town Talk newspaper, the girl’s mother said in court that McMorris used his status in both the family and the Baptist church to take advantage of her daughter.
According to the newspaper, McMorris told the court he was a social worker at Central Louisiana State Hospital and that he holds two master's degrees. He admitted guilt but did not apologize. Assistant District Attorney Monique Metoyer said the victim's family was "quite generous" in agreeing to the 25-year plea deal.
McMorris has been in jail since August 2010 on $1 million bond for each charge. He was scheduled to stand trial in April but it was postponed because one of the attorneys had a scheduling conflict. A second delay came in June, when a judge granted a request by McMorris' attorney for a sanity hearing to determine if he was competent to stand trial.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.