Priest Shot by Alleged Sex-Abuse Victim

A Roman Catholic priest in Baltimore was shot and seriously wounded by a man who said the clergyman sexually abused him nine years ago, police said Tuesday.

Dontee Stokes, 26, surrendered Monday night and said he shot the Rev. Maurice Blackwell after the priest refused to talk to him, police spokeswoman Ragina Averella said. Stokes was charged with attempted murder, gun violations and assault and was being held without bail.

Blackwell, 56, was in serious but stable condition at University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. His family declined to talk to reporters.

In 1993, the church concluded that Stokes' claims of being molested by Blackwell as a teen-ager were not credible. However, the priest has been on involuntary leave since 1998 because of allegations leveled by another alleged victim.

"There's a breaking point for everybody and I guess yesterday was his breaking point," Stokes' mother, Tamara Stokes, told Baltimore station WBAL-TV.

She said people in the church knew her son was being abused but that "nothing was done. Nothing still has not been done until this day, except that my son sits behind bars."

Cardinal William Keeler said Tuesday he was "appalled that another act of violence has occurred in the city of Baltimore." He also said: "This is a new experience for all of us. What I sense is an exquisite quality of pain."

Since the sex scandal erupted in Boston early this year, the Rev. Don Rooney, 48, of the Cleveland Diocese shot himself to death after being accused of molesting a girl.

In Baltimore, police said Stokes had a .357-caliber handgun in a black duffel bag when he drove past Blackwell's home Monday evening, circled the block and came back. Police said Stokes tried several times to talk to the priest, but Blackwell showed no interest in speaking with him.

Stokes told authorities he "doesn't know what came over him" after that, according to the police report.

Police said Stokes opened fire, hitting Blackwell in his left hand and twice in his left side near his hip, police said. When police arrived, Blackwell identified Stokes as the gunman. Stokes called police nearly six hours later from a church, telling officers Blackwell molested him as a teen-ager.

Tamara Stokes told CNN late Tuesday that she thought he son was seeking an apology from Blackwell but was "brushed off." She said she hoped the charges would be dropped because her son "wasn't in his right state of mind" at the time.

Stokes' uncle said what happened to his nephew as a teen-ager traumatized him. "His manhood was taken from him," Charles Stokes told The Associated Press.

Ray Kempisty, a spokesman for the Baltimore Archdiocese, said Stokes had reported the allegations to police in 1993, but police never charged Blackwell.

According to a 1993 police report, Stokes, then 17, told officers that Blackwell had touched and fondled him for three years while he attended Bible study classes at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church. The archdiocese conducted its own investigation and found the charges were not credible, Kempisty said.

Blackwell was sent to a church-run residential treatment center for psychological evaluation and returned to priestly duties. An independent board criticized the decision, but Keeler said at the time that he had met with Blackwell and was satisfied the priest "had recommitted himself to faithful spiritual service."

However, the archdiocese stripped Blackwell of his priestly duties four years ago after finding he had a relationship with another minor, Kempisty said. Blackwell was removed as pastor of St. Edward, where he had worked since 1979.

Church officials said Blackwell admitted to the relationship. Police investigated but again did not charge Blackwell, according to the archdiocese.

Norma Allen, a neighbor who has known Blackwell for 20 years, said the accusations against him did not reflect the outgoing and charitable man she knew.

"Never in my life would I ever imagine that would happen," she said. "They're getting really crazy when they start shooting people of faith, people of God."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.