USA TODAY US Edition
Ex-Cardinal McCarrick charged with sexual assault
Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged with the sexual assault of a teenage boy , the first criminal charge to be brought against the prelate since he was accused years ago of abusing seminary students.He is the highest-ranking church official to face such charges.
Online court records show McCarrick was charged Wednesday with indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older.
The Boston Globe reported that the criminal charges are related to an allegation that McCarrick abused a 16year-old boy at a wedding at Wellesley College in the 1970s.
Under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations was suspended when McCarrick left the state.
He was working as a priest in the New York Archdiocese at the time.
McCarrick, 91, was among the most powerful officials in the Catholic Church for decades until he was removed from ministry in 2018 when the church deemed an allegation of child sexual abuse against him to be credible. He was defrocked a year later amid accusations that he abused children and adult seminary students.
He was sued by several men in New York and New Jersey who said he abused them as children, but for the most part, the statute of limitations has barred authorities from pursuing criminal charges.
Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represents the accuser, said he could not discuss the case. He said he has not brought a civil suit.
He noted in a statement that this is the first time that a cardinal has been criminally charged with abusing a minor in the USA, and “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.”
McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn, issued a brief statement in response to the charges, saying “we will look forward to addressing this case in the courtroom.”
McCarrick had been the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in the 1980s and the archbishop of Newark from 1987 to 2000, when he was promoted to be head of the Washington Archdiocese – even as Pope John Paul II looked into allegations that McCarrick had abused adult seminary students at a New Jersey shore home for many years.
A Vatican report issued last year said several New Jersey bishops lied in letters to the pope about what they knew about sex abuse allegations against McCarrick, helping pave the way for his promotion to be approved.
McCarrick is accused of abusing children in several pending lawsuits that were filed in New Jersey under a law that suspended the civil statute of limitations on sex abuse complaints for two years, starting Dec. 1, 2019.
The Boston Globe reported that court records show McCarrick lives in Dittmer, Missouri, at a home where clerics who have committed sexual abuse and other troubled priests have been sent.