Former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Charged with 3 Counts Sexual Assault of Minor

Former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is charged with three counts of sexual assault on a person over 14, according to court documents obtained by The Boston Globe.

In 2018, McCarrick was removed from public ministry over credible allegations he sexually abused an altar boy in the 1970s. The following year, McCarrick was defrocked by Pope Francis after an investigation by the Vatican confirmed he had sexually molested adults and children.

McCarrick denied the charges in 2018, issuing a statement saying, "While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people."

The Vatican released a report over 400 pages long on previous allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick that spanned decades in November 2020.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexual assault
Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in the 1970s. In this May 16, 2006, file photo McCarrick pauses during a press conference in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite, File/AP Photo

McCarrick is the first cardinal in the U.S. to ever be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known lawyer for church sexual abuse victims who is representing the man alleging the abuse by McCarrick.

"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," Garabedian said in an email. "Let the facts be presented, the law applied, and a fair verdict rendered."

Barry Coburn, an attorney for McCarrick, told The Associated Press that they "look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom," and declined further comment.

A report filed in court says the man told investigators that McCarrick was a family friend and began abusing him when he was a boy.

The man says McCarrick groped him when he was 16 in 1974 as they walked around the campus of Wellesley College, where his brother's wedding reception was being held. The man also alleges that McCarrick led him into a room and fondled the boy before telling him to "say three our fathers and a Hail Mary or it was one our father and three Hail Marys, so God can redeem you of your sins," according to the court documents.

The case created a credibility crisis for the church since the Vatican had reports from authoritative cardinals dating to 1999 that McCarrick's behavior was problematic, yet he became an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy See's "soft diplomacy."

Polish protests against Catholic Church
Theodore McCarrick is the first U.S. cardinal to be charged with sexual crime against a minor. Here, an activist in Poland protests against Cardinal Dziwisz, who accused of protecting McCarrick, on November 10, 2020. Omar Marques/Getty Images