February 17, 2005

Survivors Group Pleased With Blackwell Verdict


POSTED: 5:20 pm EST February 17, 2005
UPDATED: 5:47 pm EST February 17, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Defrocked Baltimore priest Maurice Blackwell was found guilty Thursday of molesting an altar boy more than 10 years ago. The victim, Dontee Stokes, later shot him. Blackwell walked out of court today without commenting, and he will remain free until his sentencing in mid-April. Stokes says he feels vindicated by the jury's decision.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - also known as SNAP - was in town Thursday awaiting the release of an abuse report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It says when victims like Donte Stokes speak out, everyone will be safer. Group members believe guilty verdicts may be the only way to get the church's attention.

David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP, says he also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest he trusted. Thursday, he saluted Stokes, saying his courage in coming forward to share his disturbing story could spare other victims.

"Children are safe when child molesters are behind bars and it takes courage and perseverance for victims to trust the criminal justice system and to persevere the way he did," Clohessy said. "We're very grateful to him."

Posted by kshaw at February 17, 2005 05:20 PM