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Baltimore Priest Charged in Sex Abuse Case

May 7, 2003 | AP

A priest who was shot last year by a man claiming the cleric molested him was charged Wednesday with child sex abuse in the case that dates back more than a decade.

The Rev. Maurice Blackwell was charged with sexually abusing Dontee Stokes on a number of occasions between 1989 and 1992. Each of the four counts carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Blackwell, 57, has denied molesting Stokes, 27, who was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse.

Stokes admitting shooting Blackwell outside the priest’s home a year ago, but was acquitted of attempted murder after claiming temporary insanity. Stokes said he blacked out while confronting the priest about abuse he said began when he was an altar boy.

Stokes was convicted of gun charges and is serving eight months’ home detention.

Blackwell was beloved by many of Baltimore’s black Catholics for infusing the religion with African-American rituals, such as hanging kente cloths and having couples celebrate their weddings by jumping over broomsticks. He was credited with tripling the size of his parish.

But he was ousted as pastor at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in 1998 after he told church officials he had an inappropriate relationship with another minor. He was not charged in that case.

In 1993, the Archdiocese of Baltimore concluded Stokes’ claims of being molested by Blackwell for three years were not credible.

The shooting came several months after the clergy sex abuse scandal broke in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. Stokes said he circled Blackwell’s home in a car and shot the cleric in the left hand and twice near the left hip.

At trial, Stokes said Blackwell, whom he once considered a father figure, sodomized him when he was a teenager. Blackwell refused to testify.

Stokes’ attorney, Warren Brown, said his client testified before a grand jury Tuesday. The attorney said Stokes was asked why he reported improper touching by Blackwell in 1993 but did not allege until last year that the priest raped him.

Brown said Stokes explained he had hoped his lesser accusation against Blackwell would be enough to prosecute the priest and he would not have to tell authorities he had been raped.

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