Theodore McCarrick, 91, former archbishop of Washington and former cardinal accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy, stood trial on Friday. The trial was held in the city of Dedham in the US state of Massachusetts. The accused cardinal did not plead guilty to the charges against him. He remained silent before the court.
Theodore McCarrick said nothing at Friday’s hearing, and a declaration that he pleaded not guilty was made on his behalf.
The court decided that the former clergyman would not be detained, but that he was to pay bail of $ 5,000. He also ordered him to stay away from the victim and avoid contact with minors. The date of the next hearing is scheduled for October 28.
Three charges. Sexual assault and battery
A state court has charged McCarrick on three counts of sexual assault and beating up over the age of 14, the Associated Press reports. Each charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and entry into the sex offenders register, explains Reuters. McCarrick’s attorneys Katherine Zimmerl and Daniel Marx declined to comment on the case.
The charges against 91-year-old McCarrick were brought after several months of investigation. He is the highest-ranking former hierarchy of the Catholic Church on allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
The case concerns an incident at a wedding party in 1974 at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. According to the prosecution, the then prelate and secretary of Cardinal Terence Cooke allegedly touched the genitals of a 16-year-old boy, saying it was part of the sacrament of penance.
One of the most influential Church hierarchs
McCarrick, made cardinal by St. John Paul II in 2001, he was recognized as one of the most influential hierarchs of the Church. He was expelled from the clergy in 2019 after the Vatican found him guilty of child and adult abuse. The AP agency reports that McCarrick attained the highest priesthood dignities even though “it was reportedly common knowledge that he slept with seminarians.”
Despite numerous accusations, no criminal charges have been brought against McCarrick so far, due to the statute of limitations of the cases. This time, however, the statute of limitations did not come about due to the specificity of Massachusetts law. As the former clergyman left the state and his case was suspended, the charges were not time-barred, explains Reuters.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / DAVID L. RYAN / POOL