Priest refuses to testify against accused shooter

Thursday, December 12, 2002

BALTIMORE -- A priest refused to testify Wednesday in the trial of a former altar boy accused of shooting him out of anger for alleged sexual abuse.

The Rev. Maurice Blackwell, who was shot in the left hand and hip on May 13, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions.

He also declined to comment outside court.

Police have said Dontee Stokes, 27, who is charged with attempted murder, told investigators he shot Blackwell because the priest wouldn't apologize for repeatedly molesting him a decade earlier.

Prosecutors are reviewing Stokes' allegations.

Defense attorney Warren Brown has said Stokes was suffering a "mental disorder" as a result of the abuse.

Brown said he planned to call Cardinal William Keeler to the stand Thursday to ask why he decided to reinstate Blackwell after past sex abuse allegations were made against him.

Keeler said after the shooting that he regretted reinstating Blackwell following 1993 abuse allegations by Stokes. Blackwell returned to his post after spending three months undergoing psychiatric evaluations.

Blackwell stayed at the church until 1998, when he admitted having a consensual relationship with a teenager in the 1970s before he was ordained.

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