BALTIMORE -- A defrocked priest was convicted yesterday of molesting an altar boy who a decade later shot and wounded him on the street in a fit of rage when the clergyman refused to apologize.
Maurice Blackwell, 58, former Roman Catholic pastor of a Baltimore church, was found guilty on three of four counts of sexually abusing Dontee Stokes, now 29, during the early 1990s. He could get up to 45 years in prison when he is sentenced in April.
Stokes said he felt vindicated by the verdict: ''The world can see that I'm not a perfect person, but I stand here right and he stands wrong."
Blackwell, who uses a cane to walk because of his gunshot wounds, had no comment as he left the courtroom.
Stokes testified that the priest molested him from age 13 to 17. Prosecutors declined to charge Blackwell when Stokes first raised the accusations a decade ago.
In May 2002, as the sex scandal that engulfed the Roman Catholic Church was unfolding in Boston, a tormented Stokes shot Blackwell three times in the hip and hand during a confrontation on a city street.
The following December, Stokes was acquitted of attempted murder after claiming temporary insanity -- he called it an ''out-of-body experience" -- but was found guilty on gun charges. Jurors sent the judge a note urging him to be lenient, and Stokes was sentenced to 18 months of home detention.
In the aftermath of the shooting, prosecutors reviewed Stokes's old allegations and charged Blackwell. The Vatican defrocked him in October.
In closing arguments Wednesday, lawyer Kenneth Ravenell portrayed Stokes as a disturbed young man who made up the allegations to deal with a sexual identity crisis. But prosecutor Jo Anne Stanton called the allegations that Stokes was concealing homosexual tendencies a ''smokescreen."
Stokes acknowledged that he has had trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality at times, but maintained the abuse took place. In often graphic testimony, he described how pats on the back from the man he regarded as a father figure led to the priest sodomizing him in the rectory.
Stokes first accused Blackwell of abuse in 1993, but Blackwell denied the allegations and no other alleged victims came forward. Blackwell received psychological treatment and returned to his parish, though he was barred from working with children and young adults. He was later stripped of his church authority after acknowledging he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in the early 1970s.
The shooting was one of several acts of violence to come out of the sex scandal.
A former Marine in Missouri committed suicide after saying he was molested by a priest as a youth. In 2002, a priest hanged himself at a Maryland psychiatric institution that specializes in treating clergy members accused of sexual abuse.
Defrocked priest John Geoghan was beaten and strangled in a Massachusetts prison in 2003, allegedly by a fellow inmate.