Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged with sexually assaulting a teen. He's the highest-ranking US Catholic official to face charges in a sex abuse scandal.

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Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged with sexually assaulting a teen. He's the highest-ranking US Catholic official to face charges in a sex abuse scandal.
Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
  • Theodore McCarrick is the US's first cardinal to be criminally charged over sexual abuse of a minor.
  • Media reports said McCarrick was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting a teen boy in the 1970s.
  • McCarrick was defrocked in 2019 after a Vatican investigation into molestation allegations.

Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been criminally charged and accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a wedding in 1974, reports said Thursday.

McCarrick was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to court documents first obtained by The Boston Globe.

McCarrick, a 91-year-old former archbishop of Washington, DC, is the first US cardinal to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, the accuser's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, told the AP.

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McCarrick's attorney Barry Coburn told Insider, "we will look forward to addressing this case in the courtroom," and had no further comment.

Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick in 2019, following a Vatican investigation into allegations of sex crimes against both children and adults.

A court filing cited by The Globe said McCarrick's accuser told investigators that he was just 16 when McCarrick groped his genitals while the two strolled around the Wellesley College campus, where a wedding reception was taking place.

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The filing added that the accuser said McCarrick brought him into a room and fondled his genitals, ordering him to "say three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary or it was one Our Father and three Hail Marys, so God can redeem you of your sins."

McCarrick has faced numerous sexual misconduct allegations over the years, but it was widely assumed the 91-year-old would never face criminal charges due to statutes of limitations.

But according to The Globe, McCarrick was charged with the 1970s allegation at Wellesley because the statute of limitations ceased after McCarrick left the state of Massachusetts, where he was never a resident.

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Garabedian, the famed attorney with a long history of representing sexual abuse victims, told the newspaper his client did not want to be named.

"My client is showing an enormous amount of courage by being a complainant in the criminal process," Garabedian told The Globe. "This is the first cardinal in the United States ever charged criminally for a sexual offense against a minor."

McCarrick will appear in court August 26 for his arraignment, The Globe reported.

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