Cohoes mayor's wife: I fabricated abuse stories

March 15, 2019 09:37 PM

COHOES - Troy attorney Joseph Ahearn says he was surprised when Brenda Morse sent him an email at the end of January admitting that everything she said about her husband, and his client, Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse, was a lie.

"It's been a long road for Shawn and this (allegations of domestic abuse made by Brenda) is what started it," Ahearn said. "The letter confirms what Shawn has been saying from the beginning, that all the allegations made by Brenda were fabricated."


Ahearn says he's not the only person who suspected Brenda made up the allegations against her husband.

"I've been approached on the sidewalk every time I'm in Cohoes Court. I get approached by people telling me how much they support the mayor and how much they never believed Brenda's allegations from the beginning," Ahearn stated.

More than a year ago, after undergoing several knee surgeries, Brenda says she got hooked on pain pills. That, she believes, was the beginning of her downward spiral into addiction that she says tore her family apart.

"We were dealing with our daughter's struggles while I was trying to hide my own demons," Brenda wrote in the email. "One morning we had a disagreement about our daughter and my husband told me he was leaving me and filing for custody of our daughter."

Brenda Morse says she was so scared and so afraid she might "lose everything" that she made an allegation that Shawn grabbed her, choked her, and pushed her to the ground.

"At the time," she wrote, "my mind was not mine, and in a very strange way, I believed that if I made these allegations he would not be able to take our daughter away."

Brenda writes what happened next was "unimaginable."

"My husband never laid a hand on me, never," she wrote.

The allegations lead to separate police investigations involving Colonie and State Police. In some circles, the mayor was ostracized. At least one dozen area politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, called for Morse to step down from his mayor's position.

"I'm certainly not going to bad mouth any Albany politicians," Ahearn said. "They're going with the information that was available to them at the time. We should all sit back on these sort of cases and let it play out in a courtroom if necessary because Shawn Morse, despite the fact that he's a public official, still enjoys the presumption of innocence as do we all."

Ahearn says he forwarded Brenda's email to police soon after he received it at the end of January. That was apparently what ended their investigations.

"We should all be concerned when people make false accusations," Ahearn asserts, "Shawn doesn't want her charged with a crime. She is still the mother of his child. He's not vindictive about it."

Writing the letter, Brenda said, is a "big step towards my healing process."

She also says writing it is "not only the most difficult thing she's ever written but also the most painful."

The domestic abuse allegations have nothing to do with the federal campaign finance charges hanging over the mayor's head. It's unclear, at this point, how any of the ongoing distractions might impact the upcoming mayoral race in Cohoes.

"My husband who never laid a hand on me, never, was being destroyed beyond belief and I was directly responsible for that," Brenda wrote. "Shawn had always been a loving husband and dad, working tirelessly to give us a great life. he never hurt me. He never hurt his children. He is truly a great man and incredible father."

The entire text of Brenda Morse's email is on below:

Dear Joe :

I wanted to send this to you since I haven’t spoken to Shawn in some time. This is a big step towards my healing process. You can use this in any manner you find useful. 

This letter is not only the most difficult I have ever written, But It is also the most painful. Over the past few years, I have struggled with some very personal issues, issues that have taken control of my life, rendered me powerless, destroyed my life and destroyed the people I loved the most, my husband and my beautiful children. 

That personal issue I have is called addiction. For many years, I have heard the horror stories of people struggling with addiction, yet I could never really understand how it could happen to people, in fact, I would say to myself, people choice to take drug and if they wanted to stop they would just stop.

Sadly, after several knee surgeries, I found out for myself that becoming addicted to pain pills was not an option, instead, it was a horrifying reality that took control of my mind and body and refused to let go. 

This disease is so powerful that it consumes your entire life, and forces you to concede. It truly steals away your soul and you will do anything to feed your appetite, including hurting the people you love the most.

And, that's what I did to my family. No matter how hard you try sooner or later people will know you are different. People will know you are not yourself, you talk different, act different and walk differently. People who love you quickly realize that something is very wrong.

For me, it was my husband, the man who loved his family unconditionally. A great father, husband, and Mayor of Cohoes. The man who loved me for 20 years. And, what happened next is the most painful thing that will haunt me every day for the rest of my life. 

We were dealing with our daughter's struggles while I was trying to hide my own demons. One morning we had a disagreed about our daughter and my husband told me he was leaving me and filing for custody of our daughter. I was so hurt and scared, afraid to lose everything that I made an allegation that he grabbed me, choked me and pushed me to the ground. At the time my mind was not mine, and In a very strange way, I belived that if made these allegations he would not be able to take our daughter away. 

What happened next was unimaginable, like a wildfire my husband who never laid a hand on me never, was being destroyed beyond belief and I was directly responsible for that. And, for the next year, Shawn has been publicly destroyed. Hurt behind imagination. I can not even believe what has happened to him at my hands and others who used me in my time of weakness.

Last week, I saw TV 13 and for the first time, with clean eyes I saw the pain on his face, how he has aged from the stress we caused him, but more importantly, I see the strength of a man who I love and admire standing tall and proud, a man in so much pain, yet still fighting for him family, that I could no longer hide my secret.

Shawn had always been a loving husband and dad, working tirelessly to give us a great life, he never hurt me, he never hurt his children, he is truly a great man and incredible father. Shawn is a man with a very strong personality but a huge soft heart. He had dedicated his life to helping the underdog, you could always find him help kids, and/ or his special love senior. He is just an incredible person and so many people know it. He touched many lives in his years of public service. 

Today as I continue to get healthy, I know I have to be honest and share my story as I take my life back and work to get healthy, and this letter is a big part of that I want to use my story to help others, people need to know if this could happen to me, it can happen to anyone. I will always have to live with the pain I caused, but I do not have to live unhealthily .

For the last year, I focused all my energy on blaming others for my actions and hurting Shawn was the focus to protect my secrets, I used the TU as my false sounding board, and for that, I'm so sorry. I allowed people who wanted to hurt Shawn to use me in my time of weakness to hurt him, and for that I am sorry. 

Sorry seems so weak, for all the pain and suffering I caused.

As I look with new eyes, I see the destruction I caused my family, and the man who was fighting to save his wife and daughter from self-destruction and under the most extream pressers we placed on him, and yet he NEVER gave up on us. He fought and fought while we try to destroy him to hide our secret, the media, other politicians, and people who knew nothing about the true struggles taking place in our lives used him for their personal agendas, not because they card about us.

Facing overwhelming pressure from so many directions Shawn did what he always does, he blocked out the noise and save us. His devotion and unwavering love for his family saved me and my daughter from this horrible underworld, and yes, although we have not spoken in many months, his courage to battle through the self-made pain that we placed on him, the pressure of the TU, and others looking for hurt him for their own personal gain, has given me the courage to get healthy myself and fight each day. I'm working on becoming the best person that I can be and I look forward to a day that we can put this pain in the past and move on from this nightmare 

Shawn taking on this burden, and the unimaginable pain that was unfairly inflicted on him by so many, yet he never wavered and today our daughter is safe and making incredible strives and I am so proud of her, and so thankful Shawn never gave up on her and fought too save her. And, as of this letter, whether he knows it or not he is directly responsible for saving my life as well.

I always remember the words he said that perception is not reality and today I believe that more than ever.

I am not ready to talk publicly, I'm not there yet in my recovery, but this letter is the biggest step towards better days.

Brenda Morse 


Dan Levy

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