Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked after a Vatican investigation confirmed he sexually assaulted adults and children, has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenager at a wedding reception in Massachusetts in 1974, according to court records.
McCarrick is the first cardinal in the United States to ever be charged with a sex crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known lawyer for victims of sexual abuse at the church who represents the man alleging abuse by McCarrick.
“It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a victim of sexual abuse to report to investigators that she has been sexually assaulted and to continue with criminal proceedings,” 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 assault and battery on a person over the age of 14, according to documents filed in Dedham District Court on Wednesday.
Barry Coburn, an attorney for McCarrick, told The Associated Press they “look forward to dealing with the matter in the courtroom,” and declined to comment further. McCarrick, who now lives in Missouri, was ordered to appear in Massachusetts for his arraignment on August 26.
The charges against McCarrick were first reported by the Boston Globe on Thursday.
The man said the abuse started when he was a young boy, court records show. The man told authorities in an interview in January that McCarrick was close to his family and that he would organize wedding masses, baptisms and funerals for them.
The man said that at his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College in June 1974 – when he was 16 – McCarrick told him his father wanted him to have a conversation with McCarrick because the boy “Was mischievous at home and didn’t go to church.”
The man said they both went for a walk around campus and McCarrick groped him before returning to the party. The man said McCarrick also sexually assaulted him in a “locker 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 one Hail Mary or it was one Our Father and three Hail Marys, so that God can redeem you from your sins,” according to the report. .
The man also described other cases of sexual abuse by McCarrick over the years, including when the man was an adult, according to the report.
Authorities began investigating McCarrick after Garabedian sent a letter alleging the abuse to the district attorney’s office, court records show.
McCarrick, 91, was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of rumors he was a sexual predator.
The case created a credibility crisis for the church as the Vatican had authoritative cardinal reports dating back to 1999 that McCarrick’s behavior was problematic, but he became an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the “Soft diplomacy” of the Holy See.
This led to a two-year investigation which found that bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed several reports of sexual misconduct. An internal investigative report released last year blamed the lion’s share on Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick Archbishop of Washington DC.
Among the thousands of Catholic clergymen involved in sexual abuse over the past decades, McCarrick stood out for having reached the highest circles of church leadership – even as awareness of his suspicious behavior spread steadily in the hierarchy.
Ordained a priest in New York in 1958, McCarrick became Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986, then Archbishop of Washington DC, in 2000. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
In June 2018, McCarrick suddenly became the face of the long-standing Catholic sexual abuse crisis as Pope Francis removed him from the prosecution over allegations he abused a teenager while serving as a priest. At New York. A church panel determined that claims by a former altar boy that McCarrick had fondled him before Christmas Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1971 and 1972 were “credible and valid.”
The church has also admitted that it made previously undisclosed financial settlements with adults who accused McCarrick of sexual misconduct decades ago.