Delaware House of Representatives Morrison

House GOP condemns Morrison for rape, violence comments

Betsy PriceHeadlines, Government

Delaware House of Representatives Morrison

House Republicans issued a statement condemning Democratic Rep. Eric Morrison for comments he made in a hearing.

Delaware House Republicans this week condemned Rep. Eric Morrison who, among other things, said in a hearing that racketeering, extortion and bestiality were not violent crimes and that most cases of rape were statutory and not violent.

 “While Rep. Morrison is factually wrong–racketeering, extortion and bestiality often  involve violence–our antipathy for his declaration centers on his views of sexual assault and rape,” the statement from the 15-member caucus said. 

“His belief that most sex offenders are being victimized by ‘a whole lot of  misconceptions’ is only surpassed by his casual dismissal of the mental and physical  trauma suffered by the victims of sex crimes he perceives as non-violent.

“It would be concerning for any citizen to exhibit such hubris, but for a lawmaker, it strikes us as dangerously misguided.”

Morrison, D-Glasgow, made the comments during an April 17 hearing in the House Education  Committee, which was considering House Bill 290

It would authorize legislation to allow convicted violent felons to qualify for Delaware’s SEED Scholarship Program. Felons now are barred from accessing this taxpayer-financed scholarship. 

Morrison comments

“This bill does not change the violent felony code in any way,” Morrison said during a rambling speech. “It changes the SEED Program…We have things in here, for example, like racketeering. Racketeering is certainly not a violent crime. Extortion is not a violent crime. We have bestiality listed  under violent crimes. We have the general term of ‘crime’ listed under violent crimes. 

“We have criminal youth gangs listed under violent crimes. Just being involved in a part  of a gang could stop you from getting the SEED Program. Not committing any other crime. Not hurting anyone but being involved with a gang.”

Jenevieve Worley, communications director for the House Democrats, issued a statement from Morrison Thursday morning apologizing for what he said.


Eric Morrison

“After engaging in discussions with advocates, community members, and my colleagues, I realize that my comments in the House Education Committee were triggering and upsetting for many individuals,” the statement said. “I did not express well what I meant to express.

“For that, I extend my sincerest apologies. Of course, it was never my intention to minimize the seriousness of rape. I wholeheartedly acknowledge the profound trauma and devastation that sexual assault inflicts upon survivors.”

 The House Republicans noted that the Delaware Code specifies more than 70 different offenses as “violent felonies,”  including carjacking, hate crimes, stalking, arson, human trafficking, kidnapping, bestiality, murder, strangulation and rape.  

 Morrison continued his comments in the house: “And also when it comes to  things, for example — and I’ve done a lot of reading about this and worked on legislation  that’s not being introduced this year about it — when we’re talking about sex offenders,  we have a whole lot of misconceptions about who they are and who they are not. And when we see rape in the law or rape in the newspaper, we picture that, generally, a man grabbed a woman off the street, dragged her back to his apartment, and violently raped her. And in the vast majority of those cases, that’s not the case.

 “We’re talking about  statutory rape, and we’re not talking about violent rape. We’re talking about — and I know that I’m not, in a sense, using the word ‘consent’ properly — but we’re talking  about two people who consented to it. So, you know, we do have the Romeo and Juliet  laws in Delaware, so you could be talking, for example, about a 31-year-old who had — quote, unquote — consensual sex with a 17-year-old, and then they are arrested, and they are charged with a certain degree of rape, but it’s not rape in the way in which we think of it. And when we see these rape cases, the vast majority of those are of that ilk.” 

‘Twisted perspective’

 The Republicans said they recognized Morrison’s First Amendment right to express his opinions, but felt compelled to utilize that same freedom to convey their aversion to his twisted  perspectives.  

 Morrison’s statement Thursday also said, “During my time as an elected official, I’ve taken great pride in collaborating with advocacy groups to champion legislation aimed at safeguarding survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, such as HB 151 which allows domestic violence victims to request protective orders based on financial abuse; HB 327, the ‘Speak Your Truth Act,’ to protect victims of sexual assault from retaliatory lawsuits filed by their abusers; and HB 17, which in part requires that employers grant employees time off to handle and escape from domestic violence situations.

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The statement said Morrison appreciated hearing from individuals and organizations about his comments in committee.

“I will continue working on and supporting policies that empower and protect survivors of sexual assault,” the statement said.

The Republicans ended their statement by thanking their Democratic colleagues for not keeping House Bill 290 in the Education Committee, but noted they were deeply disappointed that a week had passed without the House Majority Caucus condemning Morrison’s comments.

Staff writer Jarek Rutz contributed to this report.

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