Stokes urges more time to file sex abuse claims
The Baltimore man who shot the now-defrocked priest who molested him as a child urged lawmakers yesterday to extend the statute of limitations for civil actions arising from sexual offenses against minors to 28 years, from seven years.
Because the law requires victims of childhood molestation to file claims within seven years after they turn 18, many victims are unable to receive relief for their suffering, 29-year-old Dontee Stokes told the House Judiciary Committee.
"Justice is something that we are seeking from you," Stokes testified in support of legislation proposed by Baltimore Democrat Curtis S. Anderson.
Anderson's legislation also would create a one-year open filing period, so all victims, regardless of age, can sue. His bill was one of several measures to aid victims of sexual crimes that the judiciary committee reviewed yesterday.
Meanwhile, an April 8 hearing has been scheduled on a request for a new trial by defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell, who was convicted of sexual child abuse for molesting Stokes.
Blackwell was found guilty last month and faces up to 45 years in prison. But defense lawyer Kenneth W. Ravenell has argued that the trial was tainted by prosecution witnesses' mention of "other possible victims" -- after Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger had ruled that witnesses were not to raise that possibility. During the trial, Berger acknowledged that he had "failed" to maintain an atmosphere of fairness when detectives mentioned other victims during their testimony.
-- Ivan Penn and Julie Bykowicz
Medical condition suspected in cab driver's death on I-95
The driver of an airport cab that plunged down an embankment along Interstate 95 in Halethorpe might have suffered a fatal medical problem just before the March 10 accident, state police said yesterday.
Syed Abbas-Bin Shakir, 35, of Baltimore was driving a passenger in his BWI Airport Taxi Service vehicle about 9:20 p.m. when it ran off northbound I-95 near the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Technical Center, police said.
The vehicle struck several trees and burst into flames, and Shakir was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. His male passenger -- who suffered a broken leg in the crash -- escaped the burning cab and used a cell phone to call police.
The accident and cause of Shakir's death remain under investigation, police said.
-- Richard Irwin
Lane, ramp closings to affect JFX drivers in Mount Vernon
Jones Falls Expressway lane and ramp closings are scheduled for today on sections of the highway running through Mount Vernon and Midtown-Belvedere.
The Madison Street entrance ramp to the northbound JFX and some northbound lanes between Chase and Charles streets will be closed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to install overhead sign lighting, the transportation department announced. Two lanes will remain open.
Drivers trying to use the Madison Street ramp will be detoured north on Fallsway, west on Mount Royal Avenue and across North Avenue onto the expressway ramp there.
Probe of former community college president completed
The state prosecutor's office has completed its investigation involving former Harford Community College President Claudia E. Chiesi, said Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough. The investigation involved her use of her expense account.
"Cases handled by [the state prosecutor's office] generally either result in public charges or remain confidential," said McDonough, who would not elaborate.
No charges, if any, have become public against Chiesi.
State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Harford Republican, said last year that she asked for the investigation when, she said, some members of the college's board of trustees were denied records related to Chiesi's spending. "But I doubt that anything will come out of this," Jacobs said then.
Chiesi, who retired in December, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Disabled man's caretaker convicted of molesting him
An unlicensed caretaker pleaded guilty yesterday to molesting a mentally disabled man whom he had been supervising in their home in the 2400 block of Sherwood Ave.
Donald Tymous, 50, was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to second-degree sex offense for abusing a then-48-year-old man who court documents said had the mental capacity of an 8-year-old. The abuse took place at night in the victim's bedroom from January to May 2003, according to court documents.
The victim wound up in Tymous' care after the licensed provider who had been living with him left the state, Assistant State's Attorney Jo Anne Stanton said. It was unclear yesterday whether the licensed provider reported her departure and whether provisions were made for the man in her care.
Tymous must register as a sex offender, have no contact with the victim, stop working as a caretaker and be assessed by the state's sex offender program.