Bishops Accused of Sexual Abuse and Misconduct: Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick


November 10, 2020

Stripped of his clerical status on January 11, 2019, becoming the first cardinal to be laicized for sex crimes. As of November 8, 2020, McCarrick had been publicly accused of sexually abusing at least ten minors in New York and New Jersey and of sexually abusing and/or harassing at least eight seminarians and priests of the Metuchen diocese and Newark archdiocese.

Substantive allegations against McCarrick were public on the internet for more than a decade before the mainstream press reported them. In 2005, conservative Catholic blogger Matt Abbott wrote about McCarrick’s alleged abuses of seminarians and priests. In 2008, scholar Richard Sipe published an open letter to Pope Benedict, saying he knew of “at least four priests who have had sexual encounters with Cardinal McCarrick.” In 2010, in an essay entitled the Cardinal McCarrick Syndrome, Sipe published excerpts from files of a church settlement with a former priest who was sexually abused by McCarrick.

The mainstream press did not report McCarrick’s sexual offenses until June 20, 2018, when Cardinal Dolan announced that the New York archdiocesan review board had found a child sexual abuse allegation against McCarrick to be “credible and substantiated” and that McCarrick had been ordered to cease public ministry. It was the first public allegation that McCarrick had assaulted a child. In a statement on the Washington DC archdiocesan website, McCarrick denied the abuse: “I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence.” The victim was a 16-year-old student at NYC’s Cathedral Prep Seminary in late 1971, when then-Monsignor McCarrick allegedly sexually assaulted him in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A year later, in late 1972, the boy was attacked by McCarrick a second time in one of the cathedral’s bathrooms. In separate statements released simultaneously with Dolan’s, Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen NJ and Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Newark NJ admitted that the Metuchen and Newark dioceses had “received three allegations of [McCarrick’s] sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”

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