February 20, 2005

Bearing silent witness

Baltimore Sun

By Julie Bykowicz
Sun Staff
Originally published February 20, 2005
The man in the leather jacket slipped in and out of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse in Baltimore last week, sometimes to have a cigar, sometimes to get air.

He had come to testify in the sexual child abuse trial of Maurice Blackwell, the defrocked priest from West Baltimore's St. Edward Roman Catholic Church. The victim in the case was Dontee Stokes, who shot Blackwell three years ago. But Robert A. Martin, a 50-year-old Louisiana resident, wanted the jury to hear his story, too.

Martin says he was a confused teenager from an unstable home when Blackwell took him under his wing in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. His account seems similar to that told by Stokes: hugs that turned to intimate touches and then to more explicit sexual contact.

"Something about Maurice just kept me under a spell," Martin says. Blackwell called him "my son, Bobby," and brought him to family functions for years, Martin says.

Pieces of Martin's tale tumbled out in hushed hallway conversations with reporters and Stokes' supporters over the course of last week.

But when the prosecutor sought to call Martin to the witness stand to testify against Blackwell and corroborate Stokes' accusations, the judge rejected the request -- and also instructed jurors to disregard comments from three prosecution witnesses about "other victims."

Posted by kshaw at February 20, 2005 04:59 AM