Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenage boy in 1970s

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been charged with the alleged sexual assault of a teenage boy in Massachusetts, the first criminal charge to be brought against the prelate since he was accused years ago of abusing seminary students in New Jersey, making him the highest-ranking church official to face such charges.

Court records show that McCarrick was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 years old or older — all related to incidents at a wedding in June 1974 in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

A criminal complaint says the accuser was 16 at the time and was later abused at other locations in Massachusetts and in other states, including New Jersey.

The charges were filed on Wednesday in Dedham District Court by the Wellesley Police Department. The criminal charges were first reported by the Boston Globe.

Vatican report:Pope John Paul II dismissed sex abuse by ex-Cardinal McCarrick – but goes easy on Pope Francis 

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 has been sued by several men in New York and New Jersey who say he abused them as children, but, for the most part, the statute of limitations has barred authorities from pursuing criminal charges.

Under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations would have been suspended when McCarrick, who worked in the New York Archdiocese at the time, left the state after the wedding.

Previously:Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick ran sex ring for clerics at New Jersey beach home, lawsuit alleges

Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney who represents the accuser, said he could not discuss the case because of the pending criminal charges. He said he has not brought a civil suit in this case. Court records say Garabedian had contacted authorities with the allegations, leading to an investigation that began in January.

The attorney noted in a statement that this is the first time a cardinal has been criminally charged with abusing a minor in the United States, adding that “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.”

Formerly a powerful cardinal in the Catholic Church, Theodore McCarrick is the highest-ranking church official to face criminal charges of abusing a teenager.

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 was the bishop of Metuchen in the 1980s and the Archbishop of Newark from 1987 to 2000, when he was promoted to be head of the Washington, D.C., Archdiocese — even as Pope John Paul II looked into allegations that McCarrick had been abusing 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.

Court papers show that McCarrick is living at the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri, a home for clerics who have committed sexual abuse and other troubled priests. Missouri records show that eight registered sex offenders, including two from New York, live at that address.

It was also home for a time to a former Delbarton School priest, Timothy Brennan, who died almost two years ago and has been accused of abuse in numerous lawsuits.

Abbott Koloff is an investigative reporter for NorthJersey.com, part of the USA TODAY Network.Follow Abbott Koloff on Twitter: @abbottkoloff 

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