NEW YORK – Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was criminally charged in Massachusetts on Wednesday with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974.
McCarrick was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to documents filed by Wellesley Police in Dedham District Court. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Massachusetts on Sept. 3
The charges against McCarrick were first reported by the Boston Globe on Thursday.
It’s the first time that a U.S. cardinal has been criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, the unnamed victim’s lawyer.
“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 a statement. “Let the facts be presented, the law applied, and a fair verdict rendered.”
At the time the alleged crimes took place McCarrick was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, and secretary to Cardinal Terrence Cooke of New York.
The alleged victim told investigators that McCarrick was a family friend that began molesting him when he was a boy. The man said McCarrick was a family friend that frequently joined the family on trips, authorities wrote in the documents.
The alleged crimes took place on June 8, 1974, when the man said he was at his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College when McCarrick told him his father wanted them to “have a talk,” because the teenager was being mischievous at home and not attending church, according to the report.
The alleged victim said that the two of them then walked around the college’s campus and McCarrick groped him before they went back to the reception. Once they returned, McCarrick led him to a small room and the assault continued, the report said.
During interviews with police McCarrick’s accuser recounted later incidents where McCarrick abused him in Arlington and Newton, both suburbs of Boston, the report said.
In response to the charges Barry Coburn, McCarrick’s attorney, told Crux in an email that “we will look forward to addressing this case in the courtroom.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did not return Crux request for comment on the filing of the criminal complaint.
Garabedian is a longtime attorney known for representing those who have made allegations against the Catholic clergy. He was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight” released in 2015. The film chronicled the Globe’s historic investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston.
According to the court filings obtained by the Globe, McCarrick, 91, now lives in Missouri. The address listed in the court filings is the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer. According to its website, it’s a ministry coordinated by the Servants of the Paraclete that offers rehabilitation and reconciliation of priests and religious brothers.
McCarrick was laicized by the Vatican in 2019 after allegations of sexual abuse against adults and minors were substantiated. McCarrick was the first cardinal laicized for sexual abuse.
Last November, the Holy See released a long anticipated, 446-page report on the rise of McCarrick through church ranks. It spans from 1930-2017, detailing who knew what and when regarding McCarrick’s sexual harassment and abuse of minors and seminarians going back to the early 1970’s.
In the aftermath of the report U.S. church leaders spoke about the need to combat clericalism, and put the victims first when allegations of clerical abuse are made.
McCarrick was ordained a priest in 1958 and made a monsignor by Pope Paul VI in 1965.
McCarrick went on to become the first bishop of Metuchen in 1981, archbishop of Newark in 1986, and the archbishop of Washington in 2000. His resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
In 2017, the Archdiocese of New York received the first accusation against McCarrick of sexual abuse of a minor. An investigation ensued and the accusation was found credible in 2018, which led the Vatican to permanently bar McCarrick from public ministry, before he was ultimately laicized in 2019.
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This story has been updated with the new date of McCarrick’s arraignment.