Aged 93, Former Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Deemed Unfit for Trial Due to Dementia in Teen Sexual Abuse Case

by Ryan Lee
1 comment
Clergy Abuse Scandal

The 93-year-old former prominent figure of the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will not be subject to trial for alleged sexual assault against a teenage boy from decades ago. The case against him was dismissed by a Massachusetts judge on Wednesday, as both prosecution and defense attorneys have concurred that he is afflicted with dementia.

Previously the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., McCarrick faced public disgrace when Pope Francis defrocked him in 2019, following an internal Vatican inquiry that exposed his history of sexual misconduct involving both adults and minors. The McCarrick scandal significantly eroded the church’s credibility, partly due to evidence indicating that Vatican and U.S. church leaders were aware of his relations with seminarians but chose to ignore the issue as he ascended within the U.S. church hierarchy, becoming a skillful fundraiser who advised three popes.

During the recent court proceeding, Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a psychologist employed by the prosecution, revealed substantial cognitive impairments in McCarrick’s memory based on two interviews conducted in June. His ability to retain information from one hour to the next was frequently compromised. Nelligan clarified that, akin to other forms of dementia, there are no medications capable of ameliorating these symptoms.

“It’s not solely his current deficits,” Nelligan affirmed. “There’s no conceivable path to improvement.”

Given his inability to recollect discussions, McCarrick was unable to effectively engage with his legal representatives in his defense, as pointed out by Nelligan.

McCarrick appeared via a video link during the hearing, his posture slightly slouched, dressed in a light green shirt with a grey sweater vest or sweater draping his shoulders. He remained silent throughout the proceedings.

The former influential American prelate was facing allegations of sexually abusing a teenage boy at a wedding reception held at Wellesley College in 1974.

Persisting in his innocence, McCarrick pleaded not guilty in September 2021. Additionally, he faced charges in April related to the sexual assault of an 18-year-old man in Wisconsin over 45 years ago.

In February, McCarrick’s legal team motioned for the case’s dismissal, presenting a diagnosis from a psychiatry and behavioral science expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, indicating that McCarrick suffers from dementia, potentially Alzheimer’s disease.

At that juncture, his attorneys noted that McCarrick possessed a “limited understanding” of the legal proceedings against him.

Residing in Dittmer, Missouri, McCarrick confronted three counts of indecent assault and battery on an individual over 14. His departure from Massachusetts did not grant him immunity from historical abuse allegations, as the statute of limitations was paused upon his exit.

Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse who represents the accuser, conveyed the client’s disappointment with the expert assessment conducted by the prosecution.

“Despite today’s decision by the criminal court,” Garabedian stated on Wednesday, “numerous victims of clergy sexual abuse still view former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as a permanent embodiment of malevolence within the Catholic Church.”

The Big Big News usually refrains from disclosing the identities of sexual assault complainants unless they opt for public disclosure, which the victim in this particular case has not chosen to do.

During a 2021 interview with authorities, the accuser recounted that McCarrick had close ties to his family during his upbringing. Prosecutors outlined how McCarrick participated in family gatherings and accompanied them on vacations, with the victim referring to him as “Uncle Ted.”

Prosecutors asserted that McCarrick committed the abuse over an extended period, including during a wedding reception at Wellesley College when the victim was 16. The man also recounted a separate incident of sexual assault in a coat room after they returned to the reception.

Prosecutors detailed that McCarrick instructed the boy to recite the “Hail Mary” and “Our Father” prayers before leaving the room.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sexual Abuse Allegations

What were the allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick?

Cardinal McCarrick faced allegations of sexual assault involving a teenage boy at a wedding reception and was charged with indecent assault and battery.

Why was the case against Cardinal McCarrick dismissed?

The case was dismissed because both prosecution and defense agreed that McCarrick, aged 93, suffered from dementia, rendering him unfit for trial.

What role did Cardinal McCarrick play in the Catholic Church?

McCarrick was a prominent figure within the Roman Catholic Church and served as the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. He was later defrocked by Pope Francis due to sexual misconduct findings.

How did McCarrick’s actions impact the Church?

The scandal surrounding McCarrick’s sexual misconduct caused a crisis of credibility for the Catholic Church, as evidence suggested that church leaders were aware of his behavior but did not address it.

What were the expert findings regarding McCarrick’s mental state?

Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a psychologist for the prosecution, found significant memory deficits in McCarrick due to dementia, with no possibility of improvement through medication.

What was the victim’s relationship with McCarrick?

The victim referred to McCarrick as “Uncle Ted” and claimed that McCarrick was close to his family, attending gatherings and even traveling on vacations with them.

Was McCarrick’s plea of innocence considered?

McCarrick maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to the allegations, but the case was dismissed due to his compromised mental state, making trial unfeasible.

What was the impact of the case’s dismissal on abuse victims?

Some victims of clergy sexual abuse expressed disappointment, as they viewed McCarrick as a symbol of wrongdoing within the Catholic Church, despite the dismissal.

Did McCarrick face similar charges in the past?

McCarrick was charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in Wisconsin more than 45 years ago, in addition to the allegations related to the teenage boy.

How did McCarrick’s legal team respond to the charges?

McCarrick’s attorneys requested the case’s dismissal based on expert assessments indicating his dementia diagnosis and limited understanding of the legal proceedings.

More about Sexual Abuse Allegations

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1 comment

EconNerd August 31, 2023 - 10:33 am

dang, dis whole case – politics, religion, finance – mix of everythin’!


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