Disgraced and Defrocked - Ex Cardinal McCarrick Facing New Criminal Charges

(For Immediate Release April 17, 2023) 

Attorney General Josh Kaul and Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld today announced that defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, age 92, has been charged with one count of Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault for an incident that occurred in April of 1977.

We see this as still only the tip of the iceberg for "Uncle" Ted, and an ugly iceberg it is. 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 former cardinal. We hope the victim's courage inspires others who are suffering to break their silence, report these crimes, expose dangerous perpetrators, and begin to heal. 

On February 13, 2019, McCarrick lost his clerical standing and was laicized for sex offenses, making him the first cardinal to receive such a consequence for his crimes. As of February of this year, the former cardinal has been accused publicly of sexually assaulting at least eight seminarians, priests, and other vulnerable adults, as well as an estimated 14 children in New York and New Jersey. He is also facing criminal charges for child sexual abuse in Massachusetts, as well as in Wisconsin.

Serial abusers often have multiple victims. In our view, the longer an abusive cleric works in the Church, the more likely that there are additional survivors, as well as those who did not survive the effects of the assaults. This criminal charge does not surprise us.  In fact, it shows that when the names of abusers are made public, regardless of rank, it often encourages others who were hurt to come forward and make a report. We applaud all of the brave individuals for speaking out against McCarrick and hope that their example inspires others who were hurt to come forward and make a report to the police.

In our view, Catholic officials across the globe still have a huge appetite for secrecy and a great fear of scandal. However, we see the tide shifting. The once "Lion in the Conclave," McCarrick is the most senior Church official in modern times to be laicized and is, as far as we know, the first cardinal ever laicized for sexual abuse. And now, the former cardinal faces criminal charges in two states. We are elated that this serial abuser is facing secular judgment for at least some of the crimes he inflicted. 


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