The now defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick still has problems stemming from his history of sexual abuse and allowing sexual abuse under his authority (of which I was a victim). According to the Associated Press, former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is not competent to stand trial on charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Massachusetts decades ago, an expert for the prosecution says, raising doubts about the future of the criminal case against the 92-year-old.
Prosecutors this week disclosed the findings of their expert to the judge, who will ultimately rule on the once-powerful American prelate's ability to face charges that he abused the boy at a wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974. McCarrick has maintained that he is innocent, and pleaded not guilty in September 2021. He was also charged in April with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in Wisconsin more than 45 years ago.
In February, McCarrick's attorneys asked the court to dismiss the case, saying a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine had examined him and concluded that he has dementia, likely Alzheimer's disease. At that time, lawyers said McCarrick had a “limited understanding” of the criminal proceedings against him, but that “his progressive and irreparable cognitive deficits render him unable to meaningfully consult with counsel or to effectively assist in his own defense." Prosecutors later hired their own expert to assess McCarrick, who filed their own report on the man's competency, which has not been made public. The judge set a hearing on the matter for Aug. 30.
McCarrick, who lives in Dittmer, Missouri, was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14. He was not exempt from facing charges because the clock stopped on the statute of limitations when he left Massachusetts.
Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known lawyer for clergy sexual abuse victims who is representing the man accusing McCarrick, said Thursday that his client is “obviously discouraged" by the prosecution expert's findings. He said his client remains determined to continue with lawsuits he has filed in other states. “By proceeding with the civil lawsuits my client is empowering himself, other clergy sexual abuse victims and making the world a safer place for children,” Garabedian said. For decades, I’ve seen priests as criminal defendants claim to have all of a sudden become infirm, mentally incompetent, or otherwise not able to testify,” Garabedian said. “It does not come as a surprise to me that Cardinal McCarrick would be trying to avoid a criminal trial taking place for reasons related to his mental or physical health.”
Ordained as a priest in New York City in 1958, McCarrick was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation determined he sexually molested adults as well as children. An internal Vatican investigation found that bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports of sexual misconduct over many years.
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.” McCarrick was once considered the most powerful cleric in the U.S., serving as the Catholic archbishop of Washington from 2001 to his retirement in 2006. He was well-known for his prolific fundraising.
If convicted, McCarrick faces up to five years in prison on each count.