McCarrick pleads not guilty to sex assault

McCarrick pleads not guilty

Theodore McCarrick has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago.

The once-powerful American Cardinal was expelled from the priesthood for the assault, which allegedly occurred at a wedding reception in Massachusetts.

Pope Francis laicised (defrocked) McCarrick in 2019 after a Vatican investigation determined he sexually abused minors, as well as adults.

Mr McCarrick did not speak during the hearing, at which the court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, set bail at $5,000, and ordered him to stay away from the victim and have no contact with minors.

Berated by abuse survivors and demonstrators as he approached the courtroom in a walker, they shouted: “Shame on you! Prince of the church!”

McCarrick is the only US Catholic cardinal, current or former, to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.

McCarrick’s fall began in 2017 when a former altar boy came forward to report the priest had groped him when he was a teenager.

The following year, the New York Archdiocese announced that Mr McCarrick had been removed from ministry after finding the allegation to be “credible and substantiated”. In addition, two New Jersey dioceses revealed they had settled claims of sexual misconduct against him in the past involving adults.

McCarrick was one of the most visible Catholic Church officials in the US. He served as the spokesman for fellow US bishops when they enacted a “zero tolerance” policy against sexually abusive priests in 2002.

A two-year internal investigation looked into McCarrick’s conduct. The investigation found that three decades of bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports of sexual misconduct.

Correspondence showed they repeatedly rejected the information outright as rumour and excused it as an “imprudence.”

The investigative findings released last year pinned much of the blame on Pope John Paul II. He appointed McCarrick Archbishop of Washington, DC, despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed McCarrick slept with seminarians.

The alleged victim will be represented by lawyer Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian has spent his career representing child sex abuse victims — including those abused by Catholic prelates.

Garabedian’s litigation against Catholic officials was depicted in the 2015 film “Spotlight.”

The next court appearance for Mr McCarrick’s is set for Oct 28.


National Catholic Reporter

Religion News Service


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