February 23, 2005

Attorney asks for new trial for defrocked priest convicted of sex abuse

BALTIMORE (MD)
Union-Tribune

By Brian Witte
ASSOCIATED PRESS
3:50 p.m. February 23, 2005

BALTIMORE An attorney for a defrocked priest convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy requested a new trial Wednesday, arguing that statements about other alleged victims made it impossible to get a fair trial.

"We believe that a review of the law clearly supports our position for a new trial and we're hopeful that the judge will grant it," attorney Kenneth Ravenell said after the motion was filed.

Maurice Blackwell, 58, was convicted last week of committing three counts of child sexual abuse against Dontee Stokes, who shot the clergyman in 2002, nearly a decade after the abuse. Blackwell faces up to 45 years in prison.

The defense contends that statements made at the trial by two witnesses referring to other alleged sex abuse victims of Blackwell were grounds for a new trial.

The statements prompted Judge Stuart Berger to warn the prosecution not to bring up allegations relating to other victims. He also rebuked the detectives for their testimony and is considering holding them in contempt of court. During a hearing with the detectives, the judge expressed frustration with their testimony, saying he had "failed" to maintain the courtroom conditions he hoped to preside over.

Posted by kshaw at February 23, 2005 08:01 PM