Source Pravda.Ru

Catholic priest faces up to 45 years in prison for sexual abuse

Maurice Blackwell, the recently defrocked &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/25/28014.html' target=_blank>Catholic priest accused of molesting a teenager more than 10 years ago, was found guilty on three of four counts of sexual abuse of Dontee Stokes, a former parishioner of St. Edward's Church in West Baltimore who shot the cleric on a city street in 2002.

The jury, which deliberated 5 1/2 hours over two days, found Blackwell not guilty on the first charge of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/11/20/21394.html' target=_blank>sexual abuse -- relating to Stokes' allegation that the abuse began in 1989 -- but guilty on the other three.

Stokes said the molestation began when he was 13 and continued until he was 17. The jury convicted Blackwell of abusing Stokes in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Blackwell, 58, faces up to 45 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 15, informs Newsday.

After the verdict, Stokes said he felt vindicated. "Mr. Blackwell was at no point on trial. It was all about me," he said. "The world can see that I'm not a perfect person, but I stand here right and he stands wrong."

Stokes had served home detention on a gun charge related to the shooting.

Blackwell declined to comment. Defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell said he felt jurors reached their decision on evidence they should not have heard, referring to detectives' references to "other victims," which the judge ordered stricken from the record, reports CNN.

According to the Guardian, in May 2002, in the midst of the national scandal involving Catholic priests, Stokes shot Blackwell three times. In the aftermath, Baltimore prosecutors reviewed Stokes' old allegations and charged Blackwell with abuse.

Stokes, who testified he had an "out-of-body experience" at the time of the shooting, was acquitted of attempted murder in December 2002 but was convicted on gun charges. He served 18 months on home detention.

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