Carroll County prosecutors are investigating a report that a much-loved priest, formerly associate pastor at St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, engaged in sexual contact with a teen-age boy about 15 years ago.
Marcy Wogan, deputy county state's attorney, said her office received the child abuse report from the Archdiocese of Baltimore within the past two weeks. She said she could not comment further on the investigation.
The archdiocese said the subject of the investigation is the Rev. Brian Cox, 56. He is the 14th priest since 1987 to be linked publicly to sexual abuse of a minor by the archdiocese.
"It's something that the archdiocese became aware of in the last week of July," said its spokesman, William Blaul.
"We started an investigation and we were able to corroborate the information we received. We shared this with Father Cox, and it was determined that it would be best for him to pursue a course of evaluation and treatment while the investigation continues."
He said Father Cox is at an in-patient facility not operated by the archdiocese. Its name and location were not divulged.
"He acknowledged this event took place," Mr. Blaul said, and described the incident as "inappropriate touching." He said he could not discuss the circumstances or whether the boy involved attended St. John Church.
Mr. Blaul said notices were included yesterday in the church bulletins at St. John and at St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in Libertytown, Frederick County, where Father Cox sometimes assisted on weekends.
The notices, on archdiocese letterhead, say that Father Cox "engaged in inappropriate activity with a minor approximately 15 years ago, an event he has acknowledged."
They also encouraged parishioners to report any information about incidents of sexual abuse to the archdiocese.
An ebullient and popular priest known as "Father Brian," his preferred mode of dress was denim overalls at Resurrection Farm, the retreat and homeless shelter he started 12 years ago with six members of St. John's Church.
Since his ordination in 1968 into the Josephite order and operation of a mission house called Resurrection Home in West Baltimore, Father Cox's ministry has mainly been with the poor.
He formerly had assignments at St. Pius V Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore from 1968 to 1973 and as a chaplain at Archbishop Keough High School from 1973 to 1978, when he went to St. John.
He was associate pastor at St. John from 1978 to 1989, and left to devote his time to Resurrection Farm, which is also his home.
In interviews with The Sun earlier this year, Father Cox said it had long been his dream to have a farm that offered a place for people to heal emotionally and spiritually.
Although Resurrection Farm operates as a shelter for about a dozen homeless people at a time, it is a much larger community of people who visit to weed the garden, collect eggs from the chickens and celebrate Mass three times a week in a dairy house.