(LifeSiteNews) — The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed fresh charges against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick this week relating to an alleged sexual assault that took place in the state in April 1977.
The state’s DOJ issued a press release on Sunday, April 16 with the allegation that the former cardinal, now 92, had sexually assaulted and abused the victim over the course of an extended period but did not go into the detail regarding how long the alleged abuse lasted.
According to the press release, the alleged abuse, which included touching of the victim’s genitals, took place at a residence along Geneva Lake in the southern part of the state, just over 30 miles from the city of Kenosha.
The victim in the case claims he was abused by McCarrick when he was a minor and that the abuse started when he was 11 years old. The boy added that McCarrick took him to parties and other events where McCarrick and other adult men abused him.
James Grein, a former victim who has been vocal about the alleged abuses he suffered from McCarrick as a child, commented on the new charges, saying the allegations matched his own experiences.
“When I went live in November 2018 (with his allegations), I said he abused me for 20 years starting at age 11. [McCarrick] followed me around the USA and the world,” Grein said. “Every place I moved to try to escape him, he would reappear and take what he wanted/needed. I had no choice. I was groomed.”
“[McCarrick] roamed the streets grazing for his next victim. He used everyone to get his needs met. He abused me in hotels and homes,” he added.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) reacted to the new charges in a press release, stating, “We see this as not only the tip of the iceberg for the defrocked cleric, but an ugly iceberg at that. We applaud the most recent victim who has bravely come forward and we are also glad the Wisconsin Attorney General has moved the wheels of justice against the disgraced cardinal.”
“We hope the victim’s courage inspires others who are suffering to break their silence, report these crimes, expose dangerous predators, and begin to heal,” SNAP said.
The group stated that McCarrick has so far been accused of abusing at least eight seminarians, priests and other adults as well as at least 14 children.
“In our view, church officials across the globe still have a huge appetite for secrecy and fear of scandal. The once ‘Lion in the Conclave,’ McCarrick is the most senior Catholic official in modern times to be laicized and is believed to be the first cardinal ever laicized for sexual abuse. And now, the former Cardinal also faces criminal charges. We are elated that this serial predator is facing further secular judgment for at least some of the abuse he inflicted,” SNAP said.
The allegations come after an investigation conducted by the Vatican found that McCarrick had sexually abused adults and minors, leading to Pope Francis stripping him of his faculties as a priest in 2019 through the process of laicization after McCarrick had resigned from the College of Cardinals the previous year.
Earlier this year, attorneys representing McCarrick argued that prior sex abuse allegations should be dropped due to claims of worsening dementia, fueling speculation that the elderly former prelate may never actually face justice in court.
“While [McCarrick] has a limited understanding of the criminal proceedings against him, his progressive and irreparable cognitive deficits render him unable to meaningfully consult with counsel or to effectively assist in his own defense,” the attorneys stated in February.
Dr. David Schretlen, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, conducted a neurological exam on McCarrick in December 2022 that claimed to show the 92-year-old had “significant neuropsychological deficits” and that it appeared “to have started relatively recently, to be worsening rapidly, and to impair both Mr. McCarrick’s cognition and his memory.”
The report was also cited by his attorneys, who argued that the results showed McCarrick was not competent to stand trial in Massachusetts, where he is accused of sexually assaulting a minor during the 1970s.
“Because the Commonwealth bears the burden to establish that Mr. McCarrick is, in fact, competent to stand trial … it will need adequate time to review the report from Dr. Schretlen and, if necessary, to engage its own expert to evaluate Mr. McCarrick,” the lawyers added.
The new charges of abuse against McCarrick come as Pope Francis has called for a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual abuse despite allegations by some that he may have protected McCarrick and other alleged abusers, such as Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta.
A 2020 report explicitly claimed that Pope Francis knew of the allegations made against McCarrick but had dismissed them, with the report stating, “Pope Francis recalled having supposed that any allegations against McCarrick already in existence in 2000 must have been deemed without foundation because ‘John Paul II was a man so morally strict, of such moral rectitude, that he would never have permitted a rotten candidacy to move forward.’”
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, meanwhile, contented that while serving as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States he had informed Pope Francis personally about the abuse allegations and that that information had been received and restrictions were placed on McCarrick’s personal life as a result. Pope Francis claimed not to have recalled the conversations, however.
Pope Francis has also had to contend with more recent allegations toward one of his favorite artists, fellow Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik.
Father Rupnik, who was briefly ex-communicated in 2019 for absolving a woman he had sex with, has been accused of a number of sexual abuses, particularly of nuns, with some allegations going as far as claiming that Rupnik forced one nun to watch pornography and engage in sexual activity.
The alleged victim spoke to Italian newspaper Domani in December, stating, “Father Marko started slowly and sweetly getting inside my psychological and spiritual world, exploiting my uncertainties and fragility and using my relationship with God to push me into sexual experiences with him.”
Rupnik, whose art is featured prominently at the crypt of St. Padre Pio, is said to have carried out the abuse in the 1990s, when he served as a spiritual director at a convent in Slovenia.
The unnamed nun, who claimed to have had her complaints against Rupnik ignored in 1994, stated that as many as 20 of the 41 women at the convent had been abused by Rupnik.
The continuing cases and allegations of sexual abuse among senior members of the Catholic clergy run contrary to Pope Francis’ calls for zero tolerance and statements that the Church should not try to hide such abuses.