Man alleges Blackwell molested him in 1960s

Time discrepancy seen in account of first incident

May 23, 2002|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

A 50-year-old airport limousine driver came forward yesterday, alleging the Rev. Maurice J. Blackwell molested him over three years on church property, including St. Mary's Seminary.

Ricardo Wayman spoke at a news conference arranged by attorney Joanne L. Suder, whose firm represents Dontee D. Stokes in civil matters. Stokes, 26, was charged last week in Blackwell's shooting.

Wayman said he came forward to support Stokes, whose family says he shot the priest after confronting him over decade-old abuse allegations that were never prosecuted. Although Wayman has yet to tell his story to prosecutors or the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Suder said her firm believes his account is credible.

"We've had several people interview him and we put information together with other information we have, including the nature of the abuse and things [Blackwell] said," Suder said.

Wayman said the abuse began when he was 15 and living in Edmondson Village in West Baltimore. Seminarians from St. Mary's sometimes shuttled children by van from the neighborhood to the seminary for concerts and refreshments, he said, and on one occasion Blackwell and two other seminarians offered to take him on a tour of the building. Wayman said he eventually found his way to Blackwell's room, and as the other two students stood outside, Blackwell had sex with him.

The abuse continued after Blackwell was ordained and was assigned to St. Bernardine's Catholic Church in West Baltimore, Wayman said. Blackwell would call him and tell his family that he wanted to take him to an event, Wayman said.

"He would end up taking me to his apartment or taking me to St. Bernardine's or somewhere where sex was performed," he said. "I remember I felt some kind of strange thing about him being an important person and being powerful."

Wayman said he never told anyone until now.

Wayman's account would place the first alleged incident at St. Mary's in the late 1960s. But Blackwell was not a resident then, according to the archdiocese. He attended St. Mary's College in Catonsville from 1968 to 1969, and then St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park from 1970 until 1973. He stayed at the seminary the first year and a half, then went to live with the priests at St. Gregory the Great parish in West Baltimore, who lived in apartments.

Presented with the discrepancy, Suder said Wayman had been uncertain of his age at the time of the abuse, but was confident that he was a teen-ager.

The Rev. Richard Woy, who coordinates the archdiocese response to sexual abuse, said he would encourage Wayman to report his allegation to police. He said the archdiocese would offer Wayman psychological counseling if he requests it.

Wayman has had skirmishes with the law, including a minor theft conviction and drug possession charges that were dropped. He has never married and says the abuse left him confused about his sexuality, Suder said. She said that after the abuse ended, Wayman "never saw Father Blackwell again and expressed to me he's happy he never did."

After days of confusion over whether the city state's attorney's office had ever been notified by the archdiocese of another abuse allegation made against Blackwell in 1998, prosecutors acknowledged yesterday that the case had been investigated at their request by the Police Department.

While the state's attorney's office has not been able to locate its records of that case, police documents show that a detective interviewed the victim, then living in Las Vegas. He described repeated sex abuse by the priest about 30 years earlier.

According to the investigative report, obtained by The Sun, the man said Blackwell contacted him in 1993, after Stokes made his abuse allegation, to ask what he would say if questioned by police. The man told the detective that his reason for recounting the abuse in 1998 was so "people would believe the boy" who had claimed that Blackwell had abused him.

Blackwell told archdiocesan officials that he had abused the Nevada man and was stripped of his priestly powers. But no criminal charges were brought because the victim was not willing to return to Baltimore or be a witness against Blackwell.

A police spokesman said yesterday that the department will not attempt to reinterview the Nevada man or to open another investigation.

Sun staff writers John Rivera, Sarah Koenig and Todd Richissin contributed to this article.

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