McCarrick accuser aids NYC prosecutors
Sex abuse case against ex-cardinal now part of broader investigation
VATICAN CITY — The key accuser in the sex abuse case against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has met with New York City prosecutors, evidence that the scandal that has convulsed the papacy is now part of the broader U.S. law enforcement investigation into sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.
James Grein gave testimony last month to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Sara Sullivan, who is investigating a broad range of issues related to clergy abuse and the systematic cover-up by church superiors, Grein's attorney, Patrick Noaker, told The Associated Press.
The development is significant, given that the Vatican investigation against McCarrick has already created a credibility crisis for the Catholic hierarchy including Pope Francis, since it was apparently an open secret that McCarrick slept with adult seminarians. Grein's testimony, however, includes allegations that McCarrick, a former family friend, also groomed and abused him starting when he was 11.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office launched a hotline last year and invited victims to report even decadesold sex abuse, saying it would pursue “any and all investigative leads” to ensure justice.
Grein met with Sullivan before Christmas after filing a compensation claim with the New York City archdiocese alleging that McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, first exposed himself when Grein was 11 and continued abusing him for some two decades, including during confession, Noaker said. The church's compensation procedures require that victims notify the district attorney of their allegations, which Grein did on Nov. 1.
Noaker, however, said Grein's testimony to Sullivan went beyond the required pro forma notification and covered issues related to a broader investigation.
On Dec. 27, Grein testified to Vatican investigators as part of the Holy See's internal probe against McCarrick. That investigation has now finished and shifted to Rome, where a final verdict is expected within weeks, Vatican officials say.
McCarrick, who has also been accused by two other men in the Vatican investigation, faces possible defrocking if Francis determines the accusations against him are credible.
Criminal charges in New York City against McCarrick are unlikely for any actual abuse, due to the statute of limitations, Noaker said. But Grein's testimony could still prove useful as prosecutors investigate patterns of abuse, conspiracy and cover-up over decades by Catholic leaders.
McCarrick was ordained a priest in New York City in 1958 and served as an auxiliary bishop to New York's then-Cardinal Terence Cooke before being named bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981. It was during his years as a New York City priest — in the early 1970s — that he allegedly groped a teenage altar boy in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
After the New York City archdiocese found the accusation credible and announced that McCarrick had been removed from public ministry, Grein and former seminarians came forward to say that McCarrick molested them as well. Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July.