February 18, 2005

Survivors hail Stokes as a hero for abuse victims

Baltimore Sun

By Janice D'Arcy
Sun Staff
Originally published February 18, 2005

Clergy abuse survivor groups hailed Dontee Stokes yesterday as a hero whose victory in court against his former priest would serve as a beacon for other victims.

"Dontee could have tried to run from this, bury this, deny this and let [Maurice] Blackwell abuse again," said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP. "He courageously chose to face this. That's why we consider him heroic."

By contrast, the official Roman Catholic Church response was decidedly more subdued as the Archdiocese Of Baltimore simply noted that it had relieved the former West Baltimore priest of his duties years ago.

The guilty verdict was quickly spread across the country by SNAP and other advocacy groups, which have closely monitored the Baltimore proceedings. Since it came just days after defrocked priest Paul R. Shanley, a notorious figure in the Boston Archdiocese's abuse scandal, was sentenced for raping a boy in the 1980s, victims groups treated the verdict as part of a larger message.

Posted by kshaw at February 18, 2005 03:58 AM