Abuse Prompts Sympathy for the Bedeviled

By Douglas Montero
New York Post
May 18, 2002

KNOWING the predator who sexually abused you is alive, free and capable of attacking again is as painful as a rusty knife in the gut.

It's the type of gnawing, life-altering knife Dontee D. Stokes apparently tried to remove from his belly when he allegedly blasted the Rev. Maurice Blackwell with three .357-cal- iber bullets a few days ago in Baltimore. Stokes claims Blackwell molested him.

Advocates say there are hundreds of blood-drenched people like Stokes trying to function in our society.

That's why Stokes' Baltimore lawyer Thomas McNicholas says he's received several calls from folks who want to contribute to the "Dontee Stokes Legal Defense Fund."

"They're looking at him as a victim," he said. "People understand what's going on, and I think there is a place in their heart for what [Stokes] is going through."

If Stokes shot a priest 10 years ago, they would have buried him under the jail.

Instead, William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore wrote a sincere, straightforward letter to the local paper apologizing to victims, including Stokes.

The New York-area victims got spit from religious leaders.

Two weeks ago, Dan Dugo, 31, tracked down the Rev. Patrick Sexton, the priest he accused of abusing him 22 years ago, to a small town in Pennsylvania where he worked in a Sears automotive section.

Dugo, like Stokes, came forward two years ago. Neither law enforcement nor a lawsuit could help because of the statute of limitations. The Diocese of Brooklyn offered him hush money he rejected.

A law-enforcement source confirmed the diocese had three "disturbing" allegations against Sexton prior to Dugo's claim.

Dugo admits he has thought about going after Sexton - perhaps to protect other kids.

"I could see why [Stokes] felt that he had no other option but to take the law into his own hands," Dugo said.

Michael Paciullo Jr., 49, of Tucson, Ariz., called the Bronx DA's office recently to report he was attacked 35 years ago by a priest in Manhattan. The priest left New York in the early '90s and now lives in Lubbock, Texas.

Paciullo reached out to the Archdiocese of New York for help, but got none. He's called four lawyers - they cited the statute of limitations.

"I don't know what to do about this," he said. "I'm frustrated and I feel somewhat depressed, because I thought something was going to happen that would make me feel better so I don't have to keep it bottled up anymore."


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