Allegations of sexual abuse and settlements: What we know about Cardinal McCarrick's dramatic downfall
By Kelly Heyboer And Ted Sherman
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
June 20, 2018
|Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall assembly in Baltimore in 2011.|
Photo by Patrick Semansky
|Then-Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick in 2000/|
Photo by John O'Boyle
|Pope John Paul II embraces Archbishop Theodore McCarrick in Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1995.|
Photo by Amanda Brown
|Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of SNAP, during a protest in front of the Statehouse in Trenton in 2011 to remove the statute of limitations in civil cases for sex abuse victims.|
Photo by Frank H. Conlon
|McCarrick, then Archbishop of Newark, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark in 1997.|
Photo by Jerry McCrea
|McCarrick talks with reporters outside the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark in 1995.|
Photo by Gene Boyars
The scandal over Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's alleged abuse of a minor while he was a young priest— and the subsequent disclosure by church officials in New Jersey of settlements of at least two cases charging sexual misconduct with adults— has raised new questions over pledges of transparency by the Catholic Church in dealing with the misdeeds of its clergy.
In 2002, American bishops passed the Dallas Charter, requiring that dioceses report all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to public authorities.
But the New Jersey settlements in the case McCarrick, which officials said involved “allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago,” were kept confidential. They only came to light after the cardinal, a former Archbishop of Newark who later became head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was removed from public ministry Wednesday by the Vatican.
In a statement, the church said McCarrick was removed from public ministry following a “credible and substantiated” allegation of sexual abuse involving a teenager from nearly 50 years ago. He accepted the end of his public role in the church. However, the cardinal said he does not remember the alleged abuse, and believes he is innocent.
What happened in New Jersey?
McCarrick, 87, served as a bishop and archbishop in New Jersey between 1981 and 2001. He was bishop of Metuchen from 1981 to 1986, and then became Newark’s archbishop until 2000, when he was picked by Pope John Paul II to be Washington’s archbishop. He was then elevated to cardinal in 2001.
Both the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen received allegations involving McCarrick, including two that later resulted in legal settlements, according to New Jersey church officials. But, neither the Archdiocese of Newark nor the Diocese of Metuchen offered any details about those allegations, which all involved sexual misconduct with adults.
“The Archdiocese of Newark has never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor. In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark in a statement. “While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.”
Why were those settlements never publicly disclosed?
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark did not respond to questions about why the settlements were not disclosed. It is unclear if the sexual misconduct allegations against McCarrick were made in New Jersey before the Dallas Charter was enacted, or whether they needed to be reported since they did not involve minors.
Critics though, question why the Pope would have promoted McCarrick— a well-known church leader who has served on numerous Vatican councils and traveled world-wide on behalf of the church— had it known of the settlements in New Jersey.
“What is troubling about this news today is the fact that the church, which claims to be open and transparent and does not want to keep any secrets, seems to have kept these issues a secret—which extremely troubling,” said Phillipsburg attorney Greg Gianforcaro, who has represented a number of individuals alleging abuse by priests.
Was there a cover-up?
Mark Crawford, New Jersey state director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, blasted the Archdiocese of Newark for never reporting that three accusations of sexual misconduct had been made against McCarrick and failing to disclose that the church had settled with two victims.
“Was the Vatican never told? Was it covered up here in Newark?” Crawford asked.
He said he personally met with McCarrick in the late 1990s to discuss his accusations that he had been abused by a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark as a child. He said McCarrick seemed sympathetic.
“He told me he never met with another abuse survivor. I opened his eyes, he said,” Crawford recalled.
However, Crawford said he was disappointed that McCarrick seemed to do little to address the priest abuse problem while serving in New Jersey. He said he later heard rumors that McCarrick had been accused of sexual misconduct by adults.
What is the Dallas Charter?
In 2002 in Dallas, American bishops met in an effort to forge a zero-tolerance policy in the wake of the widening scandal over abusive priests that threatened to engulf the Catholic Church in the U.S.
What they came up with was a policy known as the Dallas Charter, or the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which required permanent removal of any priest who has committed sexual abuse involving a minor. The charter also called for American bishops to report all such cases of sexual abuse to civil authorities.
What happened in New York?
The Archdiocese of New York, in a statement, said the allegations made recently that McCarrick abused a teenager nearly 50 years ago were the first it was made aware of, and the matter “was turned over to law enforcement officials, and was then thoroughly investigated by an independent forensic agency,” as called for in the Dallas Charger.
Officials said McCarrick was advised of the charge, and, while maintaining his innocence, fully cooperated in the investigation.
“Again according to our public protocol, the results of the investigation were then given to the Archdiocesan Review Board, a seasoned group of professionals including jurists, law enforcement experts, parents, psychologists, a priest, and a religious sister. The review board found the allegations credible and substantiated,” the archdiocese said.
Due to the statute of limitations in New York, it is unlikely McCarrick will be criminally prosecuted in the case.
Why weren't the allegations in New York reported?
Church officials are not providing any specifics on the allegations in New York, other than to note they involved a minor, and occurred nearly 50 years ago.
The Archbishop of New York said the allegations were first made last year after the archdiocese announced a fund to pay past victims of sexual abuses in the archdiocese.