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Stokes To Testify Before Grand Jury On Sex Abuse Allegations Against Priest

May 6, 2003 | Baltimore Sun

Dontee D. Stokes, the West Baltimore barber who became national news last year after shooting a priest he says molested him, will testify today before a grand jury that could bring charges of sexual abuse against the clergyman, the Rev. Maurice J. Blackwell, Stokes' lawyer said yesterday.

The city state's attorney's office declined to comment on the scheduled proceedings, but Warren A. Brown, Stokes' lawyer, said the grand jury could deliberate today after hearing Stokes' testimony.

"Dontee has been eager to see [an indictment] happen because he wants this man to admit what he did and apologize," said Brown, who in the summer stood on the steps of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse with a bullhorn, shouting insults at prosecutors for not obtaining an indictment against Blackwell.

"I feel vindicated after appearing in front of the courthouse with my bullhorn, appearing like a Don Quixote-type of person," he said. "Now look where we are."

Stokes' appearance occurs after a recently completed investigation of the Blackwell case by the Carroll County state's attorney's office, where a prosecutor experienced with handling sensitive sex-crime investigations conducted a review. The city state's attorney's office has declined to reveal the findings.

Stokes has said he would be willing to cooperate with the state's attorney's office and testify about the alleged abuse.

During his trial on attempted murder charges last year, Stokes testified that Blackwell, whom he once considered a father figure, sodomized him when he was a teen-ager. Stokes was acquitted of first-degree attempted murder in December, but convicted on a minor weapons charge and is serving eight months of home detention.

Blackwell has refused to speak publicly about the case since he was shot three times by Stokes on May 13. He also refused to testify at Stokes' trial, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Kenneth W. Ravenell, Blackwell's lawyer, had no comment on the case yesterday, but has said his client denies abusing Stokes.

Brown said that it is important for the grand jury to hear from Stokes, since he is the alleged victim.

"The grand jury will get to hear from him, scrutinize him and ultimately, I feel, believe him," Brown said.

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