independent.ie– Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy during a wedding reception in the 1970s, court records show.
Mr McCarrick was defrocked in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed he had sexually molested adults as well as children.
Court documents obtained by The Boston Globe shows that Mr McCarrick is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person aged over 14.
Mr McCarrick is the first cardinal in the US to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known lawyer for church sexual abuse victims who is representing the man alleging the abuse by Mr McCarrick.
“It takes an enormous amount of courage for a sexual abuse victim to report having been sexually abused to investigators and proceed through the criminal process,” Mr Garabedian said in an email.
“Let the facts be presented, the law applied, and a fair verdict rendered.”
Barry Coburn, an attorney for Mr McCarrick, told the Associated Press that they “look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom”, and declined to comment further.
A report filed in court says the man told investigators that Mr McCarrick was a family friend and began abusing him when he was a boy.
The man says Mr McCarrick groped him when he was 16 in 1974 as they walked around the campus of Wellesley College, where his brother’s wedding reception was being held.
The man also alleges that Mr McCarrick led him into a room and fondled the boy before telling him to “say three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary or it was one Our Father and three Hail Marys, so God can redeem you of your sins”, according to the court documents.
Mr McCarrick (91 was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of rumours that he was a sexual predator.
The case created a credibility crisis for the church since the Vatican had reports from authoritative cardinals dating to 1999 that Mr McCarrick’s behaviour was problematic, yet he became an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy See’s “soft diplomacy”.