'He's a criminal': Abuse survivor speaks out after Vatican's 'McCarrick Report' released

The Vatican released a 449-page report Tuesday, detailing the sexual abuse allegations against defrocked Theodore McCarrick and the timeline in which church officials knew of the scandal.

Decades of sexual abuse allegations yet McCarrick continued to gain status in the Catholic Church until he was stripped of his cardinal and archbishop titles in 2019. The document written by Vatican officials can arguably be boiled down to this: McCarrick was friends with Pope John Paul II, allowing him to rise in the ranks even as priests came forward describing McCarrick’s sins.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's a criminal,” Becky Ianni told ABC7 News reporter Victoria Sanchez during a Zoom interview shortly after the report was released.

Ianni is the Washington DC representative of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). She said the McCarrick Report minimizes what really happened.

“What bothers me is the terms they use. He was accused of ‘misconduct’, he was accused of ‘inappropriate behavior’. He was accused of sexual abuse. I mean, let’s name it. It’s a crime,” she said. “First, let’s excuse the behavior and then let’s use the terminology that doesn’t make it seem so bad.”

Before his appointment to the head of the Archdiocese of Washington in 2000, the church looked into allegations of abuse but found them unreliable. McCarrick admitted to sharing his bed with seminarians at a New Jersey beach house and called it “imprudent” but insisted he never engaged in sexual conduct.

Pope John Paul II and other church leaders believed McCarrick and promoted him.

The report describes multiple witness accounts. One mother said she wrote an anonymous letter to the church hierarchy in the 1980s describing McCarrick inappropriately touching her sons and giving her teenager alcohol. She sent handwritten copies of the letter to each U.S. cardinal and the Papal Nuncio which is the ecclesiastical diplomat.

Nothing was done.

“And I thought that by contacting the Papal Nuncio that the Pope would know about it and would do something. But I began to feel, as time passed, that it was just a club of men who all knew about it and had ignored it. And then I thought, or feared, that they were actually involved. And I began to doubt anybody was going to do anything about it,” she said.

“Well, if John Paul II knew something, then Pope Benedict knew it, then Pope Francis knew it,” Ianni said.

The report downplays how much church leaders knew as facts. It said when Pope Francis was elected pontiff in 2013, he had only heard of rumored allegations and believed they were reviewed and rejected by his two predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

After McCarrick resigned from his Washington DC position, Cardinal Donald Wuerl took over. He too resigned after admitting to covering up for predator priests in Pittsburgh.

“As a bishop, I am sorry and I’m embarrassed,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory told Sanchez during a one-on-one interview on October 29.

Archbishop Gregory was tapped for the Washington position to take over for Wuerl and promised systemic changes and a rebuilding of trust.

The Vatican is not disclosing where 90-year-old McCarrick is living now after he left a Kansas friary in January. As for next steps after the report was released, that is also unknown. McCarrick was already stripped of his title and defrocked in 2018 when the church found allegations to be “cre...

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