- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) — Dontee Stokes, the Baltimore man who shot a priest he accused of sexually abusing him, was questioned for about 40 minutes yesterday by a grand jury investigating the charges against the clergyman.Jurors asked Mr. Stokes, now 27, why he reported in 1993 that the Rev. Maurice Blackwell had touched him, but did not say until last year that the priest raped him, said Mr. Stokes’ attorney, Warren Brown.”They seemed to zero in on the delay,” Mr. Brown said.Mr. Brown said Mr. Stokes explained that he thought his lesser accusation against Father Blackwell would be enough to prosecute the priest, and he would not have to tell authorities he had been raped, Mr. Brown said.”Number one, it was quite embarrassing, and number two, he thought the touching was offensive enough. It was in violation of the law, and it was morally wrong,” Mr. Brown said.Mr. Brown said he is confident Father Blackwell will be indicted on sex-abuse charges.”They’re not there to decide whether Father Blackwell is guilty or not, just whether there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial at a later date,” Mr. Brown said. “I don’t think that’s much of a hurdle to overcome.”Father Blackwell’s attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, didn’t return a call yesterday by the Associated Press seeking comment on the grand jury investigation.Father Blackwell refused to testify in Mr. Stokes’ attempted murder trial last year, citing his Fifth Amendment rights.As he entered the courthouse, Mr. Stokes said he was “prayerful that everything will go well.”Reporters waited to speak with him after the grand jury session, but Mr. Stokes joined his mother, who had been waiting for him in the courthouse, and they exited through a side door.No other witnesses have been called, but prosecutors have reserved time today in case jurors want to hear testimony from a different source, Mr. Brown said.Police investigated Mr. Stokes’ accusations in 1993, but Father Blackwell was never charged. City state’s attorneys began investigating Father Blackwell again last year after Mr. Stokes said he had been raped, said Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office.Mr. Brown defended Mr. Stokes when he was acquitted of attempted murder for the May 2002 shooting of Father Blackwell. Mr. Stokes has appealed handgun convictions related to the shooting.

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