Defrocked cardinal, 93, with sexual assault charge in Wisconsin has case suspended

WLUK - Fox 11 [Green Bay WI]

January 10, 2024

By Brian Kerhin

A misdemeanor sexual assault case against former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was suspended Wednesday because the defrocked priest is incompetent to stand trial.

McCarrick, the ex-archbishop of Washington, D.C., was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal Vatican investigation determined he sexually molested adults as well as children.

The once-powerful American prelate also faced charges that he abused the teenage boy at a wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974. However, a Massachusetts judge ruled in August that case would be dismissed because he is experiencing dementia.

McCarrick, 93, was charged in Wisconsin in April with one count of fourth-degree sexual assault for an incident that occurred in April of 1977. The charge stems from a complaint which alleges McCarrick engaged in repeated sexual abuse of the victim over time, including the charged incident that involved the alleged fondling of the victim’s genitals while staying as a guest at a Geneva Lake residence.

In Walworth County court Wednesday, Judge David Reddy suspended the case, but denied a defense request to dismiss the case outright. A review hearing is scheduled for Dec. 27.

“The court’s misdemeanor charge does not represent at all the full extent of the years-long abuse suffered by the victim, but it was the only charge that could be brought in Wisconsin under state law at the time. But it at least would bring McCarrick to some kind of justice. For a victim to see his offender before a judge – even if that appearance is by phone – it can be a day of emancipation and liberation from carrying the awful burden of shame and secrecy that are an inevitable consequence of these crimes. Inexplicably, Judge Reddy did not give the victim that day,” Peter Isely, program director of Nate’s Mission, a Wisconsin-based project of Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA), said in a statement.

McCarrick did not attend the hearing.

Survivors of clergy or faith leader abuse, their friends and family, or anyone who has information about how a religious organization has responded to reported abuse are encouraged to report that information to Wisconsin Dept. of Justice, either online at or by calling 1-877-222-2620.