NEW YORK – A Wisconsin judge on Jan. 10 suspended a sexual assault case against Theodore McCarrick after a court-appointed psychologist found the ex-cardinal not competent to stand trial, possibly ending efforts to secure a criminal prosecution.
County Judge David Reddy didn’t dismiss the case outright, because, he said, the court doesn’t have that authority, and the decision will be made by Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld. For now, the case is scheduled for a review hearing on Dec. 27, 2024.
The charge against McCarrick, 93, is one count of fourth-degree sexual assault.
According to a previous announcement from Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Wiedenfeld, the complaint alleges McCarrick engaged in repeated sexual abuse of the unnamed victim over time, “including the charged incident that involved the alleged fondling of a victim while staying as a guest at a Geneva Lake residence” in April 1977.
The “not competent” finding in Wisconsin essentially mirrors the results of a similar psychological evaluation conducted on McCarrick when he was prosecuted on criminal sex abuse charges in Massachusetts. A psychological exam in that case was submitted at the end of June 2023, and the charges were ultimately dismissed at the end of August 2023.
In Massachusetts, McCarrick was criminally charged in 2021 with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, stemming from the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College on June 8, 1974.
McCarrick, who once led the Archdiocese of Washington, is the first former or current U.S. cardinal to be charged criminally with sexual abuse. Pope Francis laicized McCarrick in 2019 after a Vatican investigation determined he sexually abused both minors and adults.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, said that it’s “disheartening yet unsurprising” that McCarrick likely won’t face criminal prosecution.
“Our hearts go out to the courageous victim who brought this case, and to all of McCarrick’s victims,” Doyle said in a Jan. 10 statement.
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