Fr. Maurice Blackwell
Archdiocese of Baltimore
- 1973-1974: Gregory the Great Parish (Baltimore, MD)
- 1974-1979: St. Bernadine Parish (Baltimore, MD)
- 1979-1998: St. Edward Parish (Baltimore, MD)
- 1993: Leave of Absence
- 1998-2003: Leave of Absence
Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father Maurice Blackwell
Father Maurice Blackwell was a Catholic priest who worked in multiple parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. Fr. Blackwell is listed on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors list. In April 2023, Maryland’s Attorney General released a report alleging 156 Catholic clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over six decades. The report lists the names of the abusers, including Father Blackwell. According to the report, in August 1993, a man reported that Blackwell sexually abused him over a three-year period when he was a choirboy at St. Edward’s. Blackwell caressed his mid-section and buttocks, rubbed his nipples, and attempted to touch his genitals. Blackwell was confronted and denied the abuse but said that he engaged in sexual relationships with adult men. He was placed on administrative leave, and his faculties were temporarily removed on September 8, 1993.
The Archdiocese opened an investigation, and its pastoral response team “found the young man making the allegation to be consistent and credible.” The victim also passed two polygraph examinations administered by law enforcement. Shortly after the abuse became public, three additional men came forward in September 1993. An anonymous man reported that he was inappropriately fondled by Blackwell in 1972 or 1973 when he was around 20 years old. He met Blackwell when he was a student at Essex Community College, and Blackwell invited him to St. Mary’s Seminary to learn more about joining the Black Student Union. He put his hand on the man’s thigh and genital area during the drive to St. Mary’s. When they got to the seminary, Blackwell took him to his room and made sexual advances that the caller rejected. The caller repeatedly said to “believe the child.” A 41-year-old man reached out after reading Blackwell’s statement in a Baltimore Sun article that he had “nothing to hide.” The caller reported that Blackwell made unwanted sexual advances toward him in 1970 when he was 19 years old and Blackwell was a seminarian. The caller wanted to share his story to support the victim. Notes on the third person were not found. On September 24, 1993, Off. B told Blackwell’s psychiatrist that the three adults reported that Blackwell “either engaged in homosexual relationships with them or has made sexual advances to them. The earliest…dates back to 1970.”
In September 1998, a man reported that he was sexually abused by Blackwell from age 15 until he was 26 years old. Blackwell was a seminarian at the time the abuse began. Blackwell masturbated him, orally raped him, and attempted to anally rape him. When confronted, Blackwell admitted to having had an “ongoing sexual relationship” that began when the victim was 16, recalling “approximately 15-20 incidents of sexual activity” with the victim between 1971 and 1975. Blackwell admitted he abused him at the seminarian’s residence, at St. Stephen’s Apartments, and at St. Bernadine Rectory. The Archdiocese ultimately entered into a settlement agreement with this victim for $90,000.
In October 1998, the Archdiocese released a statement regarding the reported abuse and announced that Blackwell had requested and been granted a leave of absence. The Archdiocese removed Blackwell’s faculties to function as a priest. The Archdiocese appointed a parochial administrator for St. Edward’s, but Blackwell remained “as a canonical matter, pastor of St. Edward Parish.” Cardinal Keeler encouraged Blackwell to seek treatment at St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute, and Blackwell agreed. On April 9, 1999, an officer met with Blackwell and the therapists who evaluated him. Blackwell insisted that his abuse of his victim, who came forward in 1998, was a consensual relationship and demonstrated a “lack of empathy” for the victim. He denied the 1993 report. The therapists expressed concern with Blackwell’s lack of remorse or empathy and the “compartmentalization of his sexuality.” The child sexual abuse was called a “sexual boundary violation.” Blackwell was removed from ministry.
In May 2002, the first victim to come forward shot Blackwell, wounding him in the hand and hip. The victim admitted to shooting Blackwell, testifying at trial that he acted out of frustration for the lack of response to his accusations. It was also revealed at trial that the victim had been anally raped by Blackwell. Cardinal Keeler testified and expressed regret regarding Blackwell’s return to ministry in 1993. In December 2002, the victim was convicted of three misdemeanor weapons charges but acquitted of all felony charges.39 The revelation that Blackwell had raped the victim led the Baltimore City State’s Attorney to reopen their investigation and, ultimately, to prosecute Blackwell for three counts of child sexual abuse. In February 2005, a jury inBaltimoreCityconvictedBlackwellonallthreecounts. The judge, however, granted Blackwell a new trial based on his ruling that there had been improper testimony about possible other victims. Prosecutors decided not to move forward with a new trial.40 In 2008, the Archdiocese signed a settlement agreement with the victim for $70,000.
Every year, more reports were made claiming Blackwell sexually abused them, with the most recent being in 2020, when a man reported that he was sexually abused by Blackwell from 1974 to 1976 when he was an elementary school student at St. Bernadine. In third grade, Blackwell came up and hugged him from behind on the playground. Later in the hallway, Blackwell held him and touched the victim’s buttocks. Another time he was sent by a teacher to help Blackwell in an upstairs room. Blackwell orally raped the boy and said he would “show him his next time.” Another time, Blackwell took him out of class into the gymnasium bathroom and then masturbated in front of him. The final act of abuse was Blackwell fondling him in a stairwell. Blackwell was listed as credibly accused by the Archdiocese in 2002.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.