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Dismissal of Charges Against McCarrick Condemned

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In a recent development that has sparked widespread controversy, BishopAccountability.org, a prominent group dedicated to monitoring cases of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, has strongly criticized a Massachusetts district judge's decision to dismiss criminal charges against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The charges in question revolved around allegations of sexual assault and abuse of a minor. The judge's ruling, based on the assertion that McCarrick, aged 93, was mentally unfit to stand trial, has ignited outrage and disappointment within the survivor community and advocates of accountability.

Photo credit: Tingey

Photo credit: Tingey

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/31/2023 (8 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: McCarrick, charges, trial, abuse, accountability

Anne Barrett Doyle, the co-director of BishopAccountability.org, expressed deep disappointment over the dismissal, characterizing it as a disheartening setback in the pursuit of justice. She extended her sympathies to the courageous victim who brought the case forward and to all other survivors of McCarrick's abuse. McCarrick, once a prominent figure as the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., had been facing three counts of indecent assault and battery pertaining to allegations that he sexually abused a teenage family friend at a wedding ceremony in the 1970s held at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. The survivor in this case, identified as James Grein, now 64, had previously recounted his experiences to NorthJersey.com.

This marked the first instance of criminal charges being brought against McCarrick, despite numerous allegations of sexual abuse involving minors and seminarians that had emerged over the years. The dismissal of the charges has prompted accusations of a systemic cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy. Doyle emphatically emphasized that McCarrick's actions were an "open secret" within the Church, with many fellow cardinals and bishops allegedly aware of his misconduct but failing to take appropriate action. These leaders neglected to report him to law enforcement, share the information publicly, or reach out to the victims of his abuse.

Doyle noted that had even a single bishop reported the misconduct to the police, McCarrick might have faced prosecution years ago. The dismissal of the charges underscores what she termed the "cynical strategy of cover-up" consistently employed by the Catholic hierarchy. She lamented that the failure to hold McCarrick accountable perpetuates the disgraceful collusion between the institution and the abuser.

Despite the collective frustration over the court's decision, Doyle identified the case as a significant milestone. McCarrick's indictment marked a pivotal moment as he became the first U.S. cardinal and only the second U.S. bishop to face criminal charges related to child sexual abuse. This occurrence, inconceivable just two decades ago during the initial eruption of the Catholic abuse crisis in Boston, demonstrated a seismic shift in addressing these grave allegations. McCarrick, once a commanding presence in ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and political circles both nationally and internationally, was formally laicized by Pope Francis in 2019.

While the criminal sexual assault charges filed against McCarrick in Wisconsin in April are still pending, alongside several civil lawsuits, the recent dismissal in Massachusetts serves as a stark reminder of the complexities and challenges inherent in holding high-ranking members of religious institutions accountable for their actions. The incident underscores the ongoing struggle between the pursuit of justice for survivors and the intricacies of legal proceedings within the realm of the Catholic Church.

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