Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

April 15, 2014

Custodian's sentence upheld

TRAVERSE CITY — The son of a former Traverse City school board president this month lost his final appeal to trim an eight- to 15-year prison sentence for his conviction on charges of criminal sexual conduct with a 13-year-old student.

The Michigan Supreme Court rejected former East Middle School custodian Marc W. Morris’ appeal of an October 2012 sentence handed down by 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power. Power sentenced Morris to the maximum penalty called for under the sentencing recommendation after he pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person between 13 and 15 years old.

Sentencing recommendations for individuals are based on prior criminal history and other variables specific to the crime, such as damage to the victim.

Morris’ appeal challenged the scoring for several of the variables, said Noelle Moeggenberg, the assistant Grand Traverse County prosecuting attorney who handled the case.

“Obviously, we agreed with the court’s scoring and argued it at the motion hearing,” Moeggenberg said. “I wasn’t really worried about the appeal, to be honest, but am certainly glad the higher courts agreed with us.”

Morris’ appellate attorney, Susan Walsh of Milford, did not respond to a request for comment.

Morris joined the Traverse City Area Public Schools custodial staff in 2008, despite already having a criminal conviction for marijuana possession and subsequent probation violations. The hiring also violated TCAPS’ nepotism policy against hiring children of school board members to permanent positions. Morris is the son of former TCAPS Board of Education President Gerald Morris.

Gerald Morris was still on the school board when his son was hired for the custodial job.

Marc Morris, now 30, initiated a two-year-long sexual relationship beginning in 2010 with a then-13-year-old female student.The district fired Marc Morris in July 2011 after he came to work under the influence of alcohol.

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