Former Catholic Cardinal McCarrick ruled unfit for trial over sexual abuse allegations

09:03 31.08.2023

In a landmark decision, a Massachusetts judge dismissed the case against former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy decades ago. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that McCarrick, who is now 93 years old, is suffering from dementia. The dismissal of the case highlights the ongoing credibility crisis within the Catholic Church, as McCarrick was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal Vatican investigation found evidence of sexual abuse against both children and adults.

During the hearing, Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a psychologist hired by the prosecution, stated that she found significant deficits in McCarrick's memory during two interviews in June. She noted that there are no medications that could improve his symptoms. McCarrick, who appeared via a video link, was described as slightly slumped in his chair, wearing a light green shirt and what appeared to be a grey sweater vest or sweater around his shoulders. He did not speak during the hearing.

McCarrick had faced charges of sexually assaulting a teenage boy at a wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974. Despite maintaining his innocence and pleading not guilty, his lawyers argued that he had dementia, likely Alzheimer's disease, and had a limited understanding of the criminal proceedings against him.

The dismissal of the case has disappointed many clergy sexual abuse victims, who see McCarrick as a permanent personification of evil within the Catholic Church. The accuser in this case has chosen to remain anonymous. According to prosecutors, McCarrick had a close relationship with the man's family, often attending family gatherings and going on vacations with them. The victim referred to McCarrick as "Uncle Ted." Prosecutors alleged that McCarrick committed the abuse over several years, including at the wedding reception, where he reportedly assaulted the boy in a coat room after they returned from a walk.

The dismissal of the Massachusetts case comes amidst other ongoing legal proceedings against McCarrick. He faces a criminal sexual assault charge in Wisconsin for allegedly assaulting the same victim at Lake Geneva in 1977. Wisconsin prosecutors have charged him with one count of fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor.

McCarrick's case is significant in the larger context of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. While thousands of clergy members in the United States have been accused of crimes, successful prosecutions have been relatively rare due to the statute of limitations and the passage of time. The charges against McCarrick, even if ultimately dismissed, were seen as a milestone in holding abusers accountable within the Catholic Church.

McCarrick, once one of the most prominent clerics in the U.S. Catholic Church, served as archbishop of Newark and then Washington, D.C. He was made a cardinal in 2001 and was known as an adept fundraiser who advised three popes. The allegations against him have deeply shaken the credibility of the church, as there were reports dating back to 1999 that raised concerns about his behavior.

McCarrick's lawyers have not yet commented on the dismissal of the Massachusetts case. Meanwhile, victims' advocates express disappointment over the ruling, highlighting the need for justice and accountability within the Catholic Church.

/ Thursday, August 31, 2023, 9:03 AM /

themes:  New Jersey  Washington  Massachusetts  Wisconsin

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