Man shoots former priest 'who abused him as a teenager'

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A former Roman Catholic priest who was defrocked when he admitted having sex with a teenage boy was in a serious condition in hospital yesterday after being shot by a man who said he was also assaulted as a child.

Dontee Stokes, 26, gave himself up to police after wounding Maurice Blackwell, 56, outside his home in Baltimore, Maryland, with a handgun. Mr Stokes, who said the former priest had molested him nine years ago, was charged with attempted murder, first-degree and second-degree assault. Mr Blackwell was being treated for gunshot wounds to his upper body and his hand.

Police said the attack happened at around 6pm on Monday outside the priest's home after Mr Stokes approached and tried to speak to Mr Blackwell. Witnesses said Mr Blackwell had been standing outside his house talking to someone when he was shot.

Mr Blackwell was removed from the St Edward Roman Catholic Church and placed on permanent administrative leave in 1998 after he admitted having had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy two decades earlier. He said the affair took place before he was ordained, in 1974. Since being forced from the Church, Mr Blackwell has worked as a drug counsellor in Washington DC.

The former priest was also accused of touching another teenager in 1993 – the same year Mr Stokes claimed he was assaulted. On that occasion Mr Blackwell was sent to a church-run residential treatment centre for psychological evaluation. He was allowed to return to the Church by Cardinal William Keeler after police dropped the investigation.

At that time, a panel appointed by Cardinal Keeler to review the archdiocese's handling of clergy sexual abuse cases criticised his decision to let Mr Blackwell return. The panel said a team appointed to study the case found the accusations against Mr Blackwell were "consistent and credible".

Cardinal Keeler was among the group of US cardinals who travelled to Rome last month to meet Pope John Paul II to discuss church paedophilia. The cardinals proposed new rules that would remove priests from active ministry after one credible accusation, which will be submitted to a meeting of US bishops next month in Texas.

Ray Kempisty, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said it did not know whether Mr Stokes was involved in the alleged incident in 1993 because the diocese did not keep the names of victims.