- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

Prince George's County police are re-examining old charges of sex abuse against the Rev. Paul E. Lavin, pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Northeast, in light of separate accusations made against Father Lavin this week.
Michael Mollish, 40, of Ellicott City, Md., reported to police in April 1998 that Father Lavin had sexually abused him in 1970 when he was an 8-year-old altar boy at Mount Calvary Parish in Forestville, where Father Lavin was then a priest, said Capt. Andy Ellis, a police spokesman.
The State's Attorney's Office declined to file charges at that time for lack of evidence.
Prince George's police said they will take a second look at Mr. Mollish's case now because of new charges made by George Kresslein, 45, of Annandale against Father Lavin, 58, who was placed on leave Thursday.
Mr. Kresslein filed a report with Pittston, Pa., police last month and met with a D.C. church official Wednesday to describe the reputed sexual abuse by Father Lavin in 1973, The Washington Post reported yesterday. Mr. Kresslein, who was 16 at the time, says abuse occurred when Father Lavin took him on a trip to a seminary in Pennsylvania.
Police will work with the office of State's Attorney Jack Johnson to determine what steps should be taken in further investigating Mr. Mollish's charges, said Capt. Ellis.
"We never closed the book on this," he said, because there is no statute of limitations on criminal child abuse in Maryland.
"We're in a tough position, because this is a case that happened over 20 years ago," Capt. Ellis said. "We have no physical evidence, and it's one person's word against another's. But we're definitely going to take a second look, in light of these new allegations."
Capt. Ellis said Mr. Johnson's office could ask the police to begin another investigation into the case or they could decide, for a second time, there is not enough evidence.
In Baltimore yesterday, Dontee Stokes pleaded not criminally responsible for the shooting of a priest in Baltimore who he says molested him as a youth.
An attorney for Mr. Stokes rejected a prison sentence of 25 years with the first five without parole, as was offered by prosecutor Sylvester Cox at an arraignment in Baltimore Circuit Court.
"The state made an offer which was a ridiculous offer, and for the life of me I don't understand why, when they abandoned Dontee in 1993. The best that they can do is to come at him with such determination and such vengeance," said attorney Warren Brown.
Mr. Stokes, 27, has said he was sexually abused in 1993 by the Rev. Maurice Blackwell, the priest he is accused of shooting. Authorities originally dropped the sex-abuse case for lack of evidence, but have reopened an investigation.
Although he declined to comment on the plea, Mr. Stokes urged others who have been sexually abused by priests to come forward but "not to find themselves in my situation."
Outside the courthouse, Mr. Stokes said child sexual abuse is an epidemic.
"There are other people who are out here who have been victimized, who have been abused by predatory people, and we just ask that you look at it seriously and that, regardless of what happens to me, that you know there are other people out here," he said.
Circuit Judge John Prevas set a trial date for Oct. 21 before Circuit Judge Roger Brown.
Mr. Stokes has been charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder in the May 13 shooting of Father Blackwell outside his home. Mr. Stokes turned himself in and told police he shot the priest after Father Blackwell refused to apologize for abuse in the early 1990s, police said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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