Order Settles Maryland Abuse Suit for $1.2 Million

By STEPHEN MANNING Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former altar boy who accused a Roman Catholic priest of molesting him more than five years ago has reached a $1.2 million settlement with the priest’s religious order, according to the man’s parents and attorneys.

Brandon Rains, now 20, settled the 2005 lawsuit against the Dominicans order and the Rev. Aaron Joseph “AJ” Cote last week for abuse alleged to have occurred at a Germantown, Md., church in 2001 and 2002.

The Archdiocese of Washington also was part of the settlement, but church spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said that it is not liable and that the Dominicans will shoulder the entire payment. Gibbs said that after being informed of the allegations in 2003, the archdiocese reported them to police.

Rains accused Cote of showing him pornography, masturbating in front of him and once touching his genitals when he was 14 and 15 years old.

It is the policy of The Associated Press not to name people alleging sexual assault without their consent. An attorney for Rains has said he has consented for his name to be used.

No parties admitted wrongdoing, and Cote was not charged when Maryland authorities investigated in 2003. But Rains’ parents and lawyer said they believe evidence brought out during the lawsuit was enough to prosecute the priest.

“He should be held accountable to what he’s done to our son and other children,” said Joseph McMorrow.

In an August 2006 deposition, Cote refused to answer questions about the allegations, saying it could incriminate him. A lawyer for Cote did not immediately return calls late Thursday.

Cote’s religious order, the Dominican Fathers and Brothers Province of St. Joseph in New York, urged people to report any allegations of abuse.

“It is our sincere hope that this settlement will be a source of healing and reconciliation for all involved in these allegations,” the statement read.