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Early warning signs of McCarrick grooming young victims were evident, abuse experts say

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NEW YORK, August 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Abuse prevention experts consulted by a major news agency have confirmed that Theodore McCarrick’s notes to his alleged victims are consistent with grooming. 

The Associated Press released photographs of postcards and letters the disgraced ex-prelate wrote to two seminarians and James Grein, the first child he ever baptized. McCarrick was a close friend of the Grein family and allegedly took advantage of the intimacy to abuse the boy, beginning when he was 11. 

James Grein told LifeSiteNews via social media that the former cardinal was a predator.

“McCarrick is the definition of a predator,” he said. 

“Experts across the world recognize the characteristics used by McCarrick as classic moves.”  

He believes McCarrick sent him postcards in letters to his father so as to lower his father’s guard. 

“I’m down here for some work ― there’s no place like it,” McCarrick wrote to Grein in 1970. The teenage boy was at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California, at that time. 

“Time is close for your visit back East,” the then-priest added. “I’ll be calling home one of these days to check on arrangements. See you soon. Love to all. Your uncle, Father Ted.”

Abuse prevention expert Dr. Monica Applewhite pointed out that McCarrick was confident the boy would see him and his family would ensure the visit. She also noted that by writing openly in a postcard, McCarrick was sending the message that there was nothing wrong in their relationship. 

“To send it in a postcard says ‘I have nothing to hide,’” Applewhite told AP.

Grein was not, in actuality, McCarrick’s nephew, and neither were the chosen seminarians McCarrick courted, flattered and called his nephews. The correspondence that AP published provided evidence to some seminarians’ claims that McCarrick wished them to call him “Uncle Ted.” In letters to one Metuchen seminarian, whom the AP did not name, McCarrick frequently referred to himself as “your uncle.”

Applewhite suggested to AP that this “nephew-uncle” conceit was a way to create an “informal family relationship that would make it very difficult” for the seminarians to complain about the then-bishop’s conduct. 

The samples of letters to seminarians published by AP were written on American Airlines’ Admirals Club, Washington Plaza-Hotel and Rome’s North American College letterhead. One missive was written on a plane from Warsaw to Gdansk, both exotic and high-profile places in 1987, thanks to the Polish pope, the Solidarity movement and the decades-long Cold War. 

A second expert consulted by AP suggested that McCarrick had been trying to awe the seminarian with his business travel .  

Professor Elizabeth Jeglic of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said, “It’s reminding him of his position of power, that he has all this access to special privileges.”  

His message to the seminarian, she believes, was "‘You stay with me, you get access to that.’” 

This seminarian has alleged that had he witnessed sexual misconduct by McCarrick and other seminarians on a fishing trip, and also that McCarrick had made sexual overtures to him one night at the then-bishop’s apartment in Manhattan. The grope so distressed the seminarian that he vomited.  

In one of the letters, McCarrick referred to a restaurant in which an acquaintance they had met there had been murdered by the mafia.

“Your uncle has great spots to take you to!” he joked. 

He referred to the murder again in his Warsaw-to-Gdansk letter, saying, “Did you read all about our friend (sic) who was murdered? You stick with your uncle and you’ll really meet exciting people.”

Jeglic thought the reference was an attempt to “bond” with the young man through a shared, illicit and therefore secret experience. 

What is clear through this series of letters is that McCarrick had taken the young man to a restaurant and was not seeing him as often as he would like. He provided dates of his availability and made suggestions for future meetings. Twice he suggested that the seminarian and other young men come to his brother’s place for pizza. Once, he asked if the young man had received his letters.  

McCarrick also emphasized the wide gulf in their respective statuses as bishop and seminarian with much avuncular advice about rest and studies. 

The then-bishop combined flattery with piety in a manner that has become sadly familiar in news reports. “There is a lot of goodness in you, and I hope the Lord wants to use it for His Kingdom,” he said in one letter. 

“You’re a great kid, and I know the Lord will continue to bless you.” 

Grein told LifeSiteNews that the AP article may have centered on McCarrick, but there are many others in the world. 

“The AP article uses McCarrick are the center for this definition, but predators are everywhere in all walks of life,” he wrote. 

“We are all vulnerable to a predator who has been trained to use us.” 

He believes the article will help “vulnerable men and women,” other abuse victims, learn and recognize what has happened in their lives.

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