Priest Said to Be Too Ill for Incarceration
Doctor Tells Court Blackwell Still Recovering from Wounds; Citing 'Notoriety of Case,' Defense Attorney Asks to Have Arrest Warrant Canceled, Summons Issued to Appear at Arraignment

Associated Press, carried in Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]
May 8, 2003

A priest indicted on charges that he sexually abused a man who later shot him is still recovering from his wounds and should not be incarcerated, the priest's doctor told court officials today.

The Rev. Maurice Blackwell, 57, has been charged with four counts of child sexual abuse against Dontee Stokes between 1989 and 1992. Stokes shot Blackwell three times in the hand and hip last May.

Blackwell suffers from multiple medical conditions, including diabetes, kidney damage and -- as a result of the shooting -- nerve damage, Dr. Daniel Howard said in a statement.

"I recommend that alternatives to incarceration be explored," Howard wrote.

Blackwell had been expected to turn himself in to be booked on the charges today. Blackwell's attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, asked the court to cancel the arrest warrant for the priest and instead issue a summons to appear at an arraignment. A 2 p.m. hearing on the request was scheduled.

"Because of the notoriety of this case, defense counsel is deeply concerned for the defendant's safety if the defendant should be arrested and booked at the Central Booking and Intake Facility," Ravenell wrote.

Blackwell has been living with his mother, who also suffers from medical problems and recently suffered a "mini-stroke," Ravenell also said. The attorney noted Blackwell is the only caregiver living with his mother, who was released from a hospital this week.

Ravenell added that Blackwell has strong ties to the community and is not a flight risk.

Blackwell has denied abusing Stokes, who was a minor at the time of the alleged crimes. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Stokes, 27, was acquitted of attempted murder in December, but convicted of handgun charges, despite admitting that he shot Blackwell.

In a 1993 police report, Stokes said Blackwell had abused him for three years when he was taking Bible study classes at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church, where Blackwell was the pastor.

Stokes has said he shot Blackwell in front of the priest's home because he wouldn't apologize for molesting him as a teenager. Stokes said he shot Blackwell while in an "out-of-body" state. Police said Stokes opened fire with a .357-caliber handgun he had in a black duffel bag before driving away.

Stokes is serving a sentence of eight months of home detention for the handgun conviction.

Blackwell was removed from the pulpit in 1998 following other abuse allegations. The archdiocese has begun the process of having him defrocked.


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