For the past three months, Monsignor John B. Brady of Holy Angels Catholic Church in St. Mary's County felt like a prisoner in his own rectory.
Each time he stepped outside, he said this week, he feared he would be accosted by one of his own parishioners, Edrick "Ricky" Young, 32, the man from Avenue who police say waged a 10-week campaign of terror against the 70-year-old cleric.
Young, who was arrested Friday after a police surveillance team watched him approach the rectory a final time, is accused of extorting money from the priest eight times since Sept. 28, kidnapping him three times and twice forcing Brady to cash checks at a nearby grocery store and then give him rides to open-air drug markets, police said. Brady said that at one point, he even considered writing "SOS" or "help" on one of the checks he wrote at the grocery store.
Throughout the ordeal, however, Brady never went to police. They became involved only after he confided his predicament to his brother, who called authorities.
Brady said he was deathly afraid of Young, but he said he also faced an ethical dilemma: Would reporting Young to the authorities violate the sacred covenant of trust between pastor and parishioner? Brady faced a fundamental quandary: At what point does a wayward member of the flock become an alleged criminal, and not just a sinner?
"I just prayed for Ricky and prayed I'd get rescued from this," Brady said. "The police rescued me. That was probably the answer to the prayer."
Brady said that Young first came to him in early September, seeking money for a trip to Washington to visit his ailing grandmother. A woman who answered the door Tuesday at Young's home, a few miles up the road from the church, said the family did not want to comment on Young's arrest.
"He was very sincere and genuine when he first came," Brady said. "It seemed like a normal request for help."
Brady receives about three or four such requests each week from parishioners at Holy Angels, a church of about 400 families in the rural community of Avenue. Young's family was listed on the parish rolls.
Brady also knew Young's younger brother, Carlton Young, who pleaded guilty this year to stealing more than $1,200 from Holy Angels' Mass intention envelopes. Brady frequently visited Carlton Young in jail during his nine-month sentence.
Ricky Young continued his visits to Brady through October, according to police, saying he needed money for the video store or to buy a pair of shoes.
On Nov. 21, Brady said, Young appeared at the door and demanded to be driven to nearby Leonardtown to pay his electric bill. When Brady balked, Young became angry, according to the arrest affidavit.
"Defendant Young answered him by saying, 'Don't play with me! I've got a gun and I'm not afraid to go to jail,' " according to the charging document. "The defendant . . . stated, 'Now, if you want to ever go home or say Mass again, you'll write a check for $125.' "
Young allegedly accosted Brady again on Thanksgiving day, as Brady loaded his car for a trip to his brother's home in Bethesda. Police say Young jumped in the car and demanded that Brady drive him to a nearby town, ultimately taking $100 from Brady's bank deposit.
The next Sunday, Young allegedly appeared at the rectory again and ordered the pastor to take him for a drive, stopping on a remote road. Brady feared he would be killed, but Young merely relieved himself and ordered Brady to drive on to Leonardtown. At a store there, Brady stood by the cashier's stand, his hands shaking, writing out another check.
"I was hoping I could write SOS on it or something, write a little note to call police, but Ricky was standing right there watching the whole time," Brady said.
Still, he did not contact police, feeling an obligation to the troubled man who had turned to him initially for help.
"Monsignor tried to be pastoral as long as he could, but he realized the problem was far bigger than he could handle himself," said Susan Gibbs, the spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. She said priests are encouraged to use their own judgment handling threats to themselves or other parishioners. Gibbs explained that priests are bound to confidentiality in the confessional.
Ultimately Brady told his brother, who contacted police. They interviewed the monsignor and after a five-day surveillance, St. Mary's sheriff's investigators arrested Young on Friday night as he rang the doorbell to the rectory. He was charged with 25 counts of kidnapping, extortion, false imprisonment, robbery, theft, second-degree assault and perpetrating a theft/scheme. He is being held at the St. Mary's County Detention Center on $115,000 bond.
Brady said he plans on counseling Young in jail if he is convicted.
"I want him to realize he's caused a tremendous disruption in our work here . . . and that we forgive him, but he needs to be sorry for what he's done," Brady said.
CAPTION: "I just prayed for Ricky and prayed I'd get rescued from this," said Monsignor John B. Brady, of Holy Angels Catholic Church in St. Mary's.