Ex-priest removed from parish in 1998 is wounded near home

May 14, 2002|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A former Roman Catholic priest who was removed from his West Baltimore parish after admitting to sexual abuse of a minor was shot and wounded last night outside his home in the city's Reservoir Hill neighborhood.

Maurice J. Blackwell, 56, of the 700 block of Reservoir St. was reported in serious condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after being shot about 6 p.m. in the hand and upper body, said Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

Monroe said an unidentified man was being sought, and that details of the shooting were not available. Witnesses were being interviewed at police headquarters.

Detectives from the Central District's criminal investigation division were to interview Blackwell when his condition improved, Monroe said.

"Right now," she added, "Mr. Blackwell is sedated and unable to be interviewed."

Blackwell was pastor of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church at Poplar Grove Street and Prospect Avenue from 1979 until October 1998, when he was placed on a leave of absence from his ministry.

Archdiocesan officials said Blackwell had acknowledged a sexual affair with a teen-age boy that took place more than two decades earlier - before he was ordained.

He had been removed from St. Edward once before, in September 1993, after the city police informed the archdiocese that they were investigating a complaint that the priest had inappropriately touched a teen-age male parishioner.

Blackwell was sent to a church-run residential treatment center in Hartford, Conn., for psychological evaluation. He was allowed to return to the church after police dropped the investigation on grounds of insufficient evidence, and after an interview with Cardinal William H. Keeler.

At that time, a panel that Keeler had appointed to review the archdiocese's handling of clergy sexual abuse cases criticized his decision. The panel noted that a team Keeler had assembled to study Blackwell's case found the accusations against him "consistent and credible."

Blackwell was popular in the community and at St. Edward, which he helped revitalize.

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