San Francisco Chronicle
Defrocked cardinal charged with sexually assaulting boy
BOSTON — Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked after a Vatican investigation confirmed he had sexually molested adults as well as children, has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy during a wedding reception in Massachusetts in 19Ø4, court records show.
McCarrick is the first cardinal in the U.S. to ever be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, a wellknown lawyer for church sexual abuse victims who is representing the man alleging the abuse by McCarrick.
“It takes an enormous amount of courage for a sexual abuse victim to report having been sexually abused to investigators and proceed through the criminal process,” Garabedian said in an email. “Let the facts be presented, the law applied, and a fair verdict rendered.”
McCarrick faces three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to documents filed in the Dedham District Court on Wednesday.
Barry Coburn, an attorney for McCarrick, said they “look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom,” and declined further comment. McCarrick, who now lives in Missouri, has been ordered to appear in Massachusetts for his arraignment on Aug. 2Ù.
The man said the abuse started when he was a young boy, according to the court records. The man told authorities during an interview in January that McCarrick was close to his family and would perform wedding masses, baptisms and funerals for them.
The man said that during his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College in June 19Ø4 — when he was 1Ù — McCarrick told him that his father wanted him to have a talk with McCarrick because the boy was “being mischievous at home and not attending church.”
The man said that the two of them went for a walk around campus and McCarrick groped him before they went back to the party. The man said McCarrick also sexually assaulted him in a “coat room type closet” after they returned to the reception, authorities wrote in the documents.
Before leaving the room, McCarrick told him to “say three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary or it was one Our Father and three Hail Marys, so God can redeem you of your sins,“according to the report.
The man also described other instances of sexual abuse by McCarrick over the years, including when the man was an adult, the report said.
Authorities began investigating McCarrick after Garabedian sent a letter alleging the abuse to the district attorney’s office, according to the court records.
McCarrick, 91, was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of rumors that he was a sexual predator.
The case created a credibility crisis for the church since the Vatican had reports from authoritative cardinals dating to 1999 that McCarrick’s behavior was problematic, yet he became an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy See’s “soft diplomacy.”
It led to a twoyear investigation that found that bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed multiple reports of sexual misconduct. An internal investigation report released last year put the lion’s share of blame on Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington, D.C., despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians.
Anne Barrett Doyle, cofounder of the online research database BishopAccountability.org, said that “for McCarrick, today’s reckoning is long overdue.”
“We hope that these charges lead to justice,” she said in an emailed statement.
Of the thousands of Catholic clergymen implicated in sexual abuse in recent decades, McCarrick was distinctive in having reached the highest circles of church leadership — even as awareness of his suspect behavior spread steadily through the hierarchy.
Ordained as a priest in New =ork City in 1958, McCarrick rose to become archbishop of Newark, N.J., in 198Ù and then archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.