WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Virginia man filed a police report Monday, alleging that from the age of 11 he was sexually abused and assaulted serially by now-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York when the abuse was alleged to have begun.
The New York Times reported July 19 the man’s allegation, that McCarrick began sexually abusing him in 1969, when the priest was 39 and the man, “James,” whose full name has not been reported, was 11 years old. McCarrick was reportedly a friend to the alleged victim’s family.
The man says that he continued to be sexually abused by McCarrick for almost two decades, the Times reported.
The man claims that the abuse contributed to alcohol and drug habits that plagued him for years. He also says that he attempted to disclose the abuse to his father several years after it began, but was disbelieved, according to the Times.
In 1969, when the abuse is alleged to have begun, McCarrick ended a four-year term as president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and became assistant secretary for education in the Archdiocese of New York. In 1977, he become auxiliary bishop of New York, and later became the Bishop of Metuchen, Archbishop of Newark, and, eventually, Archbishop of Washington.
Criminal statutes of limitation may prevent McCarrick from being charged with crimes relating to the abuse alleged Monday. A canonical statute of limitations, known technically as prescription, might also preclude the possibility that McCarrick face canonical charges for the alleged abuse, although the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is authorized to waive that statute in certain circumstances.
Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA Thursday that the archdiocese learned of these allegations only when the New York Times article was published.
The archdiocese has not heard from law enforcement agencies about this matter, or from the alleged victim or his attorney, Zwilling said, adding that he hopes the victim or his attorney will contact the archdiocese, directly, or through the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, an independently managed entity designed to assist victims of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of New York.
A source close to McCarrick told CNA that he had not received any official notification of the allegation and is therefore unable to respond. The source said the cardinal is committed to following the processes put in place by Church authorities regarding the allegations.
On June 20, the Archdiocese of New York, announced that it had concluded an investigation into a different allegation that McCarrick had sexually abused a teenager, finding the claim to be “credible and substantiated.”
The Vatican was informed of that accusation, and as a result, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, by order of Pope Francis, prohibited McCarrick, 88, from public ministry.
Since that announcement, media reports have detailed additional allegations, charging that McCarrick sexually abused, assaulted, or coerced seminarians and young priests during his time as a bishop. The Diocese of Metuchen and Archdiocese of Newark disclosed that they had received reports that McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct with adults, and reached legal and financial settlements in two cases.
The cardinal is prohibited from contact with minors in the Archdiocese of Washington, pursuant to the archdiocesan safe environment policies, a spokesman for the archdiocese told CNA, though that prohibition was not publicly announced when McCarrick’s prohibition from public ministry June 20 was.
McCarrick is reportedly now living at a Catholic nursing facility administered by religious sisters. The cardinal has not been publicly prohibited from contact with minors, a precautionary step often taken when a priest is being investigated for an allegation of abuse against a minor.
The Vatican has not announced if McCarrick will face canonical charges related to the initial allegation of sexual abuse. Sources tell CNA that the matter is being addressed at the Vatican under the direct supervision of Francis.