- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

TIMONIUM, Md. Prosecutors said they would try to find out if authorities ever investigated a 1998 child sexual abuse complaint against a priest who was shot last week by a man making a separate abuse claim.
"We really need to ascertain whether or not the investigation was conducted at the time," said Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman with the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office.
Miss Burns, speaking with reporters yesterday, said the office did not have any records on how the 1998 accusation involving the Rev. Maurice Blackwell was handled.
"Once we're able to determine what that outcome was, we'll be able to decide whether or not there needs to be a new investigation," Miss Burns said.
On Friday, the Baltimore Archdiocese sent two letters to the State's Attorney's Office that had been sent in 1998 relating to Father Blackwell.
Diocese officials sent the letters after hearing reports that the office did not have records of any other sex abuse cases against the priest except a closed one involving Dontee Stokes, 26, who was charged last week with shooting the 56-year-old priest after confronting him in front of his home and asking for an apology, police said.
Miss Burns would not comment on the contents of the letters.
In 1998, Father Blackwell was put on a permanent leave of absence after admitting he had a sexual relationship with another teen-age boy before his ordination in 1974.
Both letters sent by the diocese referred to a separate case more than 25 years ago.
The State's Attorney's Office will talk with the Baltimore Police Department this week to find out if someone has any recollection of the case, Miss Burns said.
"Child abuse investigations are sensitive in nature, and often investigations find that victims do not wish to come forward and testify against the perpetrator and at times investigations reveal that victims cannot be located," she said.
Miss Burns also said no open cases of sex abuse involve Father Blackwell. The State's Attorney's Office is investigating five other complaints it has received in the past two months of child sex abuse by priests, she said.
Meanwhile, Cardinal William Keeler visited the home of Mr. Stoke's grandfather on Friday night to apologize for what had happened to his grandson.
Charles Stokes said Cardinal Keeler offered to pay for psychological treatment for his grandson. He also said Cardinal Keeler planned to apologize personally to his grandson, as well as Tamara Stokes, Dontee's mother.
Dontee Stokes was released from jail Friday on $150,000 bail.
He has been charged with attempted murder, gun violations and assault. He was placed under house arrest with an electronic monitoring device.
Mr. Stokes claimed Father Blackwell molested him in 1993, when he was 17 and Father Blackwell was pastor of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in west Baltimore.
Although police looked into that accusation, the investigation was dropped and Father Blackwell was reinstated by the Archdiocese of Baltimore over the objections of a lay review panel.
Father Blackwell, who was hit by three bullets, was released from the hospital on Saturday.


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