McCarrick Report Shows Close Relationships with Law Enforcement May Have Precluded Investigation, SNAP Calls for Explanations
The bombshell report on the crimes of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick contained expected revelations about how others within the Catholic hierarchy protected and lied for him. Alarmingly, there were also indications that law enforcement officials in the FBI and local police may have chosen not to investigate accusations against McCarrick. This is an extremely disturbing revelation and law enforcement officials should clarify the situation immediately.
Among the shocking new information in the McCarrick report was the news that the FBI sought to make McCarrick a “counter-intelligence asset” by having him develop a relationship with the KGB. According to the report, McCarrick enjoyed a “special relationship” with the FBI family and was apparently “revered” by the agents who knew him. Because of this special relationship, McCarrick passed along the anonymous letters that had been written to Catholic officials, asking the FBI to investigate the “hoax” that was being perpetrated against him. It is not known to what extent the FBI investigated the letters, but it is hard to believe that McCarrick’s request was ignored by the agency that allegedly revered him.
Given what we know now about McCarrick and the veracity of those letters, we believe that the FBI should clarify their role in the McCarrick investigation. What did they find out and with whom did they share this information? It is obvious to us that a close connection to the FBI would be intimidating to McCarrick’s victims and we worry that the former Cardinal leveraged this connection in order to suppress reports from victims and prevent others from learning about his crimes.
Even more concerning is the revelation that a Lieutenant Nagle from Middlesex County wrote a memorandum to the local prosecuting attorney, Bruce J. Kaplan, informing him that they had received information from “Priest 1” regarding an attempted rape by McCarrick when “Priest 1” was a student at Seton Hall. Apparently, no investigation was conducted and no further information about that report can be found.
The fact that this victim went to the police and possibly had his allegation ignored is disturbing and frightening. Where are victims of abuse supposed to turn if their abusers are powerful men who are protected by their friends in law enforcement? In order to rebuild trust, Middlesex County officials must set the record straight on whether or not an investigation occurred, what it uncovered, and where that information was sent.
What is most concerning to us about this is that the situation is not unique to McCarrick. Take, for example, the case of Msgr. Craig Harrison in Bakersfield, CA. Msgr. Harrison is a celebrity of sorts in Bakersfield, beloved by his community and also the chaplain of the local police department. Msgr. Harrison has also been accused by at least six men of sexual abuse, and an “investigation” by the Bakersfield Police Department into their friend was inconclusive due to the “he said, she said” nature of the allegations. We find it hard to believe that this benefit of the doubt would be extended to an unconnected local teacher or coach who was accused by six different people of sexual abuse.
Another example is the case of Mgsr. Vincent Breen. In 1982, Fr. Breen was allowed to quietly retire and leave ministry instead of facing multiple charges for molesting at least eight girls. Then-Bishop John Cummins cut this deal with local prosecutors. Again, it is doubtful that a local principal would have had the authority or public deference to protect a teacher who molested multiple children.
Victims need to be able to count on law enforcement to treat them fairly and take their allegations seriously. The revelations contained in the McCarrick report cast doubt on this critical trust. The FBI and Middlesex County officials should both release their own statements publicly, making it clear who McCarrick’s “friends” were and what became of the investigation into the allegations that he was an abuser.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)