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A Catholic priest told a church official he was attracted to teens. They told him not to 'worry about it'

Lee O. Sanderlin, Baltimore Sun on

Published in Religious News

BALTIMORE — In the 1980s, Father Brian Cox told an official with the Catholic church he had a problem — he was attracted to teenage boys.

The official, according to court papers, brushed him off, telling the Westminster priest not to “worry about it.” Cox, in a taped conversation with one of his victims, said a bishop once told him he was a priest, and priests don’t need help.

It later would be revealed, through court records and newspaper reporting, that Cox had molested children at St. John Catholic School — an extension of the St. John Westminster parish where Cox was a pastor — from 1978 to 1989. He stayed on as an assistant at St. John, but his post formally ended in 1995 when an unnamed “third party” came forward to church officials and accused Cox of sexual abuse.

Cox is one of more than 150 Catholic clergy assigned to the Archdiocese of Baltimore who sexually abused children over the decades, according to a report prepared by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office.

The attorney general’s report is not yet public — it relies largely on grand jury materials, which are secret under Maryland law — but a motion Frosh’s office filed in Baltimore Circuit Court seeks to make it so. The motion cited Cox’s history, without naming him, as one of four examples of past clergy abuse as evidence for why a report into sexual abuse and torture over eight decades inside the local Catholic church should be made public.

“While these reports do not rely on information obtained via the grand jury subpoena, they provide examples of the kind of information that the subpoena has uncovered and illustrate why publishing the information in the report is vital to the public interest,” Assistant Attorney General Carrie Williams wrote in the motion filed Thursday.

 

It’s not clear whether the church will oppose Frosh’s efforts to release the report detailing the abuse of more than 600 people at the hands of at least 158 priests, including 43 priests who have not been previously named publicly. The report, relying on more than 100,000 records obtained by way of grand jury subpoena, also details the church’s efforts to cover up much of the abuse, along with its failure to act through the years.

Multiple phone calls to the attorney representing the Baltimore archdiocese were not returned Monday.

A spokesperson for the diocese told The Baltimore Sun on Friday the church would not object to the release of “a report,” so long as it is accurate. He also said that the courts “rightly expect the law on grand jury materials to be followed and due process to be respected.”

The Sun, through public records and past reporting, was able to identify Cox and one other priest, the late Laurence Brett, as two of the clergy referenced in Frosh’s motion seeking to unseal the hidden report. The Sun compared details from past reporting and court records to details included in the attorney general’s motion to confirm Cox and Brett’s identities.

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