Priest Charged in Maryland with Child Abuse

July 2, 2008

BALTIMORE (Map, News) - A Roman Catholic priest who was accused in a civil suit of molesting an altar boy seven years ago was charged Wednesday with abusing the youth in 2001 and 2002, police and a lawyer said.

The Rev. Aaron Joseph Cote, 56, who has been living in New York City, turned himself in to Montgomery County Police in Rockville Tuesday night. He is charged with custodian child abuse and is being held on $250,000 bond. Police did not know who his lawyer is.

According to police, the accuser says he was attending Mother Seton parish in Germantown when he was 14 and Cote was serving part time as youth minister. The former altar boy said that for about a year starting during the summer of 2001, Cote took him to an apartment in Germantown and engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior and inappropriately touched him, according to investigators.

Attorney Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., said Wednesday that his client Brandon Rains, now 21, is the accuser in the charges Wednesday. Last year, Rains received $1.2 million in the settlement of a 2005 lawsuit against the priest's religious order.

The Associated Press does not usually name those who say they were abused, but Rains went public when his lawsuit was settled and his lawyer said Wednesday he could be identified.

"He is grateful Cote is charged and behind bars and can't abuse anymore," Anderson said.

Anderson said Rains first went to the police with the allegations against Cote in 2003, but charges were not filed then. Anderson said he turned over additional information to the Montgomery County state's attorney and that resulted in the current charges.

The Archdiocese of Washington said it had learned of the allegations in 2003 and that it immediately reported to the authorities.

The state's attorney's office did not immediately return a call asking for comment.


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