Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — the former archbishop of Washington, DC who was kicked out of the priesthood over sex-abuse allegations — has been charged with molesting a teenage boy in Massachusetts in the 1970s.
The charges filed Wednesday make McCarrick, 91, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the US to face criminal raps in the clergy sex abuse scandal, according to The Boston Globe.
The predatory priest is accused of groping a 16-year-old boy’s genitals on June 8, 1974, during the wedding reception of the teen’s brother at Wellesley College.
McCarrick allegedly told the boy that he “needed to go to confession” and led him into a room, where he proceeded to assault him while “saying prayers to make me feel holy,” the teen told police.
The investigation into McCarrick began in January after the alleged victim’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, wrote letters to the Norfolk and Middlesex district attorneys.
“My client is showing an enormous amount of courage by being a complainant in the criminal process,” said Garabedian, a longtime advocate for church sex-abuse victims.
“This is the first cardinal in the United States ever charged criminally for a sexual offense against a minor,” he said in a statement.
McCarrick had already been facing a slew of civil lawsuits in New York and New Jersey from men who alleged he sexually assaulted them when they were kids between the 1970s and 1990s. Criminal charges couldn’t be brought in those cases as the statute of limitations has expired.
But the unholy creep could be charged in Massachusetts, because he wasn’t a state resident when the alleged abuse took place and the statute of limitations stopped running when he went home to New York, according to the Globe.
At the time, McCarrick was a monsignor and secretary to then-New York Archbishop Terence Cardinal Cooke and lived in the rectory attached to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Vatican knew for years that McCarrick slept with seminarians but only began investigating him after a man alleged that he was sexually abused by the priest when he was an altar boy in New York in the 1970s.
New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan spearheaded the probe into McCarrick, engaging the review board of the Archdiocese of New York.
McCarrick was booted from the ministry in 2018 after a review found the allegation to be “credible and substantiated.”
Pope Francis defrocked him a year later when Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and of “sins” with both minors and adults.
McCarrick, who now lives in Missouri, has denied the allegations.
A summons was issued for him to appear in Dedham District Court on Aug. 26, for an arraignment on three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.
“We will look forward to addressing this issue in the courtroom,” his attorney, Barry Coburn, told the Globe on Thursday.