Carroll Priest Indicted on Abuse Charges
He Is Accused of Fondling Child about 20 Years Ago
2nd Youth to Make Allegation
Cleric Arrested Last Month after Altar Boy Complaint

By John Rivera
Baltimore Sun
June 7, 2002

A suspended Carroll County priest, arrested last month in the alleged abuse of a youth from the Westminster parish where he was assigned two decades ago, was indicted yesterday in the alleged abuse of a second boy about the same time.

The Rev. Brian M. Cox, 63, was indicted by a Carroll County grand jury on five counts of felony child abuse and three counts of second-degree assault. He is accused of fondling and engaging in oral sex with the youth on three occasions while Cox was an assistant pastor at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster.

The alleged victim, who is now 34, would have been 12 or 13 years old in 1980 or 1981, when the abuse was allegedly committed, according to the indictment.

He alleged that the abuse took place at the St. John rectory and in an alley inside Cox's car, said Maj. Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.

The Sun does not name, without their consent, victims of sex crimes identified in court documents.

The allegations of this latest alleged victim, who lives in Sarasota, Fla., were originally investigated by the Carroll County state's attorney's office in 1995. Cox was not charged then.

The allegation was first made to the Archdiocese of Baltimore in July 1995, which said it received information that Cox had engaged in "inappropriate touching" with a minor 15 years earlier. Church officials said they confronted Cox, who by that time was working full time at Resurrection Farm, a Carroll retreat and homeless shelter, after leaving St. John in 1989.

Cox admitted the allegation was true, and he was sent for psychological evaluation to a treatment center in St. Louis. The archdiocese said it forwarded the allegation to the prosecutors, placed Cox on leave and removed his faculties to function as a priest, a status that has continued.

Prosecutors reopened their investigation into Cox this year when they were approached by John F. "Jef" Curran III, who said he was molested by Cox in 1980, when Curran was in the fifth grade at St. John School and an altar boy at the parish. Curran told prosecutors that Cox took him on outings to the pool at Western Maryland College, where he fondled him in the shower on at least four occasions.

At prosecutors' urging, Curran wore a wire and confronted the priest. Cox was arrested and charged in the Curran case May 22. Cox was also indicted yesterday on felony child abuse, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses and assault in the Curran case.

"It's one step closer to getting this issue resolved," said Curran, who now lives in North Carolina.

Cox, reached last night at Resurrection Farm, which he founded with St. John parishioners in 1983, refused to comment. His attorney, Andrew J. Graham, also refused.

Also yesterday, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on child pornography charges against the Rev. Thomas A. Rydzewski, who was associate pastor at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in North Baltimore. Rydzewski, who was charged in December, is accused of receiving images in August and October 2001 and of possessing child pornography in December.

Rydzewski was released in December to the custody of his parents and is undergoing psychological treatment at the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring.


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