Former Catholic Cardinal McCarrick found incompetent

DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) — A judge ruled Wednesday that a 93-year-old former Roman Catholic cardinal is disqualified from standing trial after both prosecutors and defense attorneys found he had dementia and dismissed charges that he sexually abused a Massachusetts teenager decades ago.

Theodore McCarrickthe former archbishop of Washington, DC, was removed from office Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal Vatican investigation found he had sexually abused both adults and children. The case created a credibility crisis for the Church as the Vatican received reports from key cardinals in 1999 that McCarrick’s behavior was problematic but that he became an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy See’s “soft diplomacy”.

The once-powerful American prelate was accused of molesting the teenager at a Wellesley College wedding in 1974.

During Wednesday’s hearing, a psychologist hired by prosecutors said she found significant deficits in McCarrick’s memory during two interviews in June, and he was often unable to recall what happened from one hour to the next they had discussed. dr Kerry Nelligan said she conducted a battery of tests twice in June. As with any form of dementia, there are no drugs that can relieve symptoms, she said.

“It’s not just because he has these deficiencies right now,” Nelligan said. “There’s no way you’re going to get any better.”

Without being able to remember any conversations, he could not attend his defense with his lawyers, she said.

Protesters watch as former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick exits Dedham Circuit Court following his arraignment Friday, September 3, 2021, in Dedham, Massachusetts.
Protesters watch as former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick exits Dedham Circuit Court following his arraignment Friday, September 3, 2021, in Dedham, Massachusetts.

McCarrick appeared during the hearing via video link. He was slumped slightly in his chair, wearing a light green shirt and what appeared to be a gray cardigan or sweater around his shoulders. He did not comment during the hearing.

McCarrick has claimed he is innocent, and pleaded not guilty in September 2021. He was too charged in April sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in Wisconsin more than 45 years ago.

In February, McCarrick’s attorneys asked the court to dismiss the case, saying a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examined him and concluded he had dementia, probably Alzheimer’s.

Lawyers at the time said McCarrick had a “limited understanding” of the criminal case against him.

McCarrick, who lives in Dittmer, Missouri, was charged with triple assault and assault on a person over the age of 14. He was not cleared of the charges because the statute of limitations expired when he left Massachusetts.

Mitchell Garabedian, a prominent clergyman sex abuse attorney who is representing the man accusing McCarrick, said in June his client was disheartened by the law enforcement expert’s findings.

“Despite today’s criminal court decision,” Garabedian said after Wednesday’s hearing, “many victims of clergy sex abuse feel that former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is, and always will be, the perennial embodiment of evil in the Catholic Church.”

The Associated Press generally does not identify individuals who report sexual assault unless they agree to be publicly named, which in this case the victim did not.

The accuser told authorities during an interview in 2021 that McCarrick was close to the man’s family growing up. Prosecutors say McCarrick would attend family gatherings and travel with them on vacations, and the victim referred to the priest as “Uncle Ted.”

Prosecutors say McCarrick abused him for several years, including when the then 16-year-old boy was at his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College. The man said McCarrick also sexually abused him in a cloakroom after they returned to reception.

Prosecutors say McCarrick told the boy to say the Hail Mary and Our Father prayers before leaving the room.

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