Ex-Cardinal McCarrick's Alleged Victim Made 'World a Safer Place for Children' by Coming Forward, Lawyer Says

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick criminally charged in alleged sexual assault, 2015 photo.
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Mitchell Garabedian spoke to Inside Edition Digital about his client coming forward with allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He is now the highest-ranking US official in the Roman Catholic Church to be criminally charged with sexual abuse.

The attorney for the alleged victim of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the highest-ranking U.S. official in the Roman Catholic Church to be charged with sexual abuse, said his client showed great courage to come forward.

"This is the first cardinal in the United States ever charged criminally for a sexual offense against a minor,” Mitchell Garabedian, a prominent Boston attorney who represents the victim, told Inside Edition Digital. "My client is showing an enormous amount of courage for being a complainant in the criminal process."

McCarrick, once regarded as a powerbroker of the Catholic Church, was criminally charged Wednesday with alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The alleged abuse took place nearly 50 years ago, according to a court filing, CNN reported.

McCarrick, 91, was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14. The complaint was filed by Wellesley Police in Dedham District Court, according to the Boston Globe, who was the first to report on the charges.

In January, the unnamed alleged victim told investigators in an interview that the abuse started when he was a young boy and that it continued into adulthood. The alleged victim said that McCarrick was a friend of the family and would often perform services for the family such as funerals and weddings, according to court records, the Associated Press reported

According to the court filings, the alleged victim outlined multiple incidents of abuse by McCarrick. He said the incidents of abuse took place in several states, including New York, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts  CNN reported

One instance of alleged abuse occurred when the man was 16 and took place during his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College in June 1974, he said. The alleged victim said McCarrick told him that his father wanted him to have a talk with him because the boy was “being mischievous at home and not attending church,” the AP reported. 

According to the complaint, the alleged victim told investigators that McCarrick then told him to take down his pants and then held and "kissed" his genitalia, "saying prayers to make me feel holy.” After telling him to pull up his pants, McCarrick allegedly told the boy to say certain prayers "so God can redeem you of your sins,” CNN reported.

Garabedian, the alleged victim's attorney, brought the sexual abuse allegations to the attention of the district attorney’s office, who then began to investigate McCarrick.

Though Garabedian declined to share what prompted his client to come forward now, citing the pending criminal case, he shared what he believed the effects of his client's actions would be.

”By reporting the sexual abuse, my client has empowered himself and other victims of sexual abuse and has made the world a safer place for children," he said.

In 2019, Pope Francis defrocked the former cardinal, officially removing him from the priesthood after a church trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adults. The Washington Post referred to it “as one of the most significant abuse-related punishments for a former cardinal in modern Catholic history.” 

A two-year investigation, the Vatican was released a report in November that found that officials in the U.S. and in Rome were aware of the rumors of McCarrick's sexual misconduct with seminarians, priests and teenage boys, but both either passed that information to superiors or chose to not to look into them, according to The Washington Post,

The report also said that Pope John Paul II knew about the alleged sexual misconduct claims against McCarrick, but reportedly believed McCarrick's denials and instead chose to keep him in his role for the next two decades, The Washington Post reported.

The pope promised a Vatican investigation into how McCarrick rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church, despite authorities allegedly being aware of allegations of abuse going back years.  

In 2001, McCarrick became elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope John Paul II. Around that same time, an American priest wrote to the Vatican to warn them of allegations that McCarrick was sexually abusing seminarians, but no action was taken for years. According to the AP, McCarrick had been ordained as a priest in New York City in 1958. He become archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986, and then archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000. 

In 2002, at the beginning of the Church sex abuse scandal, when all the cardinals were summoned to the Vatican, McCarrick continued to speak out advocating zero tolerance for abusers, despite the rumored accusations regarding his conduct. “I can’t see how anyone in the U.S. today would cover up something like that," he said at one point. 

According to the Vatican, under Pope Benedict the XVI, McCarrick was quietly advised not to travel or be seen in public and to live a discreet life to avoid further rumors of further conduct of seminarians, CNN reported 

McCarrick did not follow the recommendation, instead continuing to travel and appear at public events, including the 2013 event that elected Pope Francis, CNN said. 

In June 2018, an accusation that McCarrick had allegedly abused a minor was found credible by an internal church investigation in New York. McCarrick maintained his innocence and resigned shortly thereafter.

McCarrick, who now lives in Missouri, has been ordered to appear in Massachusetts for his arraignment on Sept. 3 at 9:30 a.m. The hearing was originally scheduled for Aug. 26, Garabedian said. If found guilty of the charges he faces, McCarrick could be sentenced up to five years in prison for each charge. McCarrick has maintained his innocence in the past regarding previous allegations.

Garabedian has successfully won settlements for more than 340 clergies and church personnel for sexual abuse. He was the tenacious attorney who exposed former Father John J. Geoghan's serial abuse of children, other sexual abusers within the Catholic Church, as well as their employers' complicity, including the Archdiocese of Boston. In the 2016 award-winning movie, "Spotlight," Stanley Tucci portrayed Garabedian.

“It’s a no-brainer for me. It has to be done," Garabedian said of his work. "And, I am standing on the shoulders of the courageous victims."

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