Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy during a wedding reception. Here’s what you should know.
The Case Against McCarrick
According to the case, McCarrick allegedly assaulted a young teenager during his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974. McCarrick told his father that he needed to speak with him in private for misbehaving and proceeded to assault the boy and tell him to pray for redemption before returning to the festivities.
This is not the only accusation against McCarrick. Over the years, many have come forward to report the abuse they suffered at his hands until finally, a report was made to the district attorney’s office. Because McCarrick wasn’t a resident of Massachusetts, his actions are punishable as the statute of limitations does not apply to his case.
He became so problematic that reports from victims and other cardinals led to a two-year investigation into his affairs that revealed that countless peers and superiors dismissed reports of sexual misconduct. As a result, McCarrick was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019.
McCarrick will appear in court for his arraignment on September 3rd.
Why the McCarrick Case Is Important
This is a singularly unique case because not only was McCarrick found guilty by the highest level of the Church, but he is the first cardinal in the U.S. to be criminally charged with sexual misconduct with a minor.
Other clergy abuse cases have either been swept under the rug or dealt with after the statute of limitations is up. No cases have ever been so publicized and addressed by the Pope, leading many to believe that there is hope for justice within the Catholic Church.
McCarrick’s case follows the pattern for abuse accusations: the abuse occurs, other clergy members turn a blind eye to the abuse, and a report is made years later. However, this time, justice is served. While the reckoning of these crimes is long overdue, many victims may never see their cases brought to light.
Often, victims of sexual assault are afraid and ashamed to tell someone about what happened, and the case can’t go to court because of the statute of limitations. Even those who do come forward face backlash and judgment for accusing a ‘holy man’ of such horrific misdeeds.
This case shows the potential for action in future cases. Now, there is a precedent for charging clergy members with abuse which helps defenders and victims build a stronger case. This case also paves the way for more accountability within the Church.
Clergy Abuse Cases
Victims can still pursue compensation outside of court. The fear and hurt brought on by abuse is often too difficult to relive on the stand, and facing the abuser can be traumatizing. For victims that want to settle out of court, you can pursue non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Continuing trauma
- Cost of therapy
- Lessened enjoyment of life
Court awarded damages can’t change the past, but they can help you build a stronger future. Reporting authority figures is daunting, but White Law PLLC has years of experience facing tough opponents on behalf of our clients.
We have helped survivors pursue the relief they deserve and connect them with resources so they can have peace of mind. Our team understands how difficult these cases can be, which is why we offer legal guidance with genuine compassion.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of clergy sexual abuse, don’t hesitate to contact White Law PLLC.