Theodore McCarrick to undergo competency exam for Wisconsin criminal case

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

September 29, 2023

By Joe Bukuras

Less than a month after former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was ruled incompetent to stand trial on child sexual abuse charges in Massachusetts, he has again been ordered to undergo a mental health exam to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on similar charges in Wisconsin. 

The misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault charges in Wisconsin relate to an incident that allegedly occurred in April 1977, in which McCarrick is accused of “fondling of the victim’s genitals” at a “Geneva Lake residence,” an April press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice said. 

Geneva Lake, which is located in Walworth County, is in southern Wisconsin, about an hour-and-20-minute drive south of Madison.

James Grein, 65, told CNA on Thursday that he brought the allegations in the Wisconsin case, saying that the abuse occurred when he was 18 years old. Grein, of Sterling, Virginia, was also the victim named in the Massachusetts complaint.

In the Massachusetts case, McCarrick underwent two separate psychological evaluations, one done in December 2022 for McCarrick’s defense team and the other in June by an expert hired by prosecutors. Both assessments concluded that the disgraced former archbishop of Washington, D.C., is too cognitively impaired to actively participate in his defense.

In a statement filed with the Massachusetts court before the dismissal of charges, Grein accused McCarrick’s legal team of “coaching” the former prelate for the psychiatrist’s interviews.

“Only they and Mr. McCarrick know the extent of the coaching to prepare him for his two interviews. If McCarrick is found incompetent, they will have won and justice will have lost,” he wrote.

Grein first went public with allegations against McCarrick in 2018 in an interview with the New York Times, which referred to him only by his first name. He told the newspaper that McCarrick had serially sexually abused him beginning when he was 11.

“He had chosen me to be his special boy,” Grein told the paper at the time. “If I go back to my family, they tell me that it’s good for you to be with him. And if you go to try to tell somebody, they say ‘I think you are mistaken.’ So what you do is you clam up, and you stay inside your own little shoe box, and you don’t come out for 40 years.”

Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld told CNA on Thursday that McCarrick’s defense team raised the issue of competency in court proceedings, citing the two psychological evaluations from the Massachusetts case. 

The psychologist obtained by the Wisconsin court to examine McCarrick is Kerry Nelligan, the same psychologist whom the Massachusetts court appointed to evaluate the former prelate at his residence in Missouri, the Vianney Renewal Center, in June. 

In that report, she found that McCarrick “is suffering from an organic process of cognitive decline” that will not improve.

McCarrick’s defense asked the court to appoint Nelligan as the examiner because they said it would be “more efficient,” Wiedenfeld said. 

The state objected to Nelligan’s appointment because “the more normal practice” would be to allow Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services to choose the evaluator, he added.

The court can choose its own examiner and that sometimes happens in cases where a psychologist “has a history in evaluating a person,” he said.

“So it definitely happens. But it’s not the normal procedure,” he added.

Asked if he had concerns about the choice of Nelligan, Wiedenfeld declined comment. He said that after the first evaluation is finished, the prosecution can request its own evaluation, but it’s up to the court to approve the request.

The report is due to be filed in court by Nov. 22, he said.