Police: Investigation of Former Germantown Priest Continues
Judge Rules Information Related to Potential Second Victim Must Be Released

By Melissa A. Chadwick
Gazette [Germantown MD]
November 8, 2006

County police have received the name of a teacher who told them a former priest at Mother Seton Parish sexually abused a student in Ohio in the late 1980s and are continuing to investigate similar allegations made by a former Germantown resident.

Attorneys in a local lawsuit filed against the Rev. Aaron Joseph Cote filed a motion last month requesting the teacher's name, which had been redacted from communications between her and the Order of Dominican Fathers and Brothers, of which Cote is a member.

District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene recently granted the motion.

"Given the allegations in this matter the Court thinks that the information sought is relevant," the judge wrote.

The Dominicans released the name, said Mike Finnegan, the attorney for former Germantown resident Brandon Rains, now 19, who alleges in the pending lawsuit that Cote, now 56, sexually abused him in 2001 and 2002, including molesting him and showing him pornography.

Cote was assigned to Mother Seton Parish from 1999 to 2002 and worked as a youth pastor there in 2001 and 2002, according to information from the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Ohio teacher's name and address have also been forwarded to Montgomery County Police, Finnegan said.

"It helps the criminal case," Finnegan said. "This definitely goes a long way toward doing that and making sure that he's not out there hurting other kids."

The alleged abuse against Rains was reported to Montgomery County Police in August 2003, but no charges were filed. The matter is still under investigation by the Family Crimes Division, according to police.

"They do have information that will allow them to pursue somewhat in the case," police spokesman Lt. Eric Burnett said Thursday.

The Ohio teacher wrote a series of letters last summer to the Dominicans saying that a former student had confided in her.

In one of the letters filed in court the teacher wrote: "Along with the sexual molestation, [the student] indicated that Fr. A.J. had repeatedly shown him pornography and given him alcohol. I believe that the details that this student shared with me are true and that these incidents did take place."

The Dominicans asked the teacher, in several letters, to tell the Ohio student, now an adult, that they would meet or talk with him when he is ready. The letters suggest that the Dominicans have not spoken with the man.

James B. Sarsfield, a Rockville attorney for the Dominicans, argued in a motion filed with the Superior Court that the teacher should not be identified.

Cote was removed from his job as a youth pastor at a Providence church in November 2005, after Rains filed the lawsuit, and is currently on administrative leave.

Cote also served at St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Bethesda and at St. Dominic Priory in Washington, D.C., while assigned to the local archdiocese.

Rains, who was not available for comment, was 14 and 15 years old at the time of the alleged abuse and living in Germantown with his stepfather and mother, Joe and Toni McMorrow. The couple has since relocated to Frederick.

Rains first told them about the alleged abuse in 2003, about a year after it had ended, they have said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.