With civil lawsuits pending against dioceses and archdioceses where he worked, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick will now face criminal charges for alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old in Massachusetts.
Normally, the criminal charges would not be able to be brought because the criminal statute of limitations would have expired. However, Massachusetts law contains a provision that allows for the prosecution of crimes in certain circumstances even though they would have occurred many years ago.
According to the NY Times, “This week’s criminal charges against Mr. McCarrick, filed in Dedham District Court in Massachusetts, represent a new moment in victims’ efforts to hold church officials accountable. The charges could proceed because of a feature of Massachusetts law: because Mr. McCarrick was not a resident of Massachusetts, the clock on the statute of limitations there stopped when he was not in the state.”
The alleged crimes happened 47 years ago but McCarrick will be facing 3 counts of indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over, and is expected to appear for arraignment on Sept. 3. Each charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Anyone who has read the McCarrick Report won't be surprised if more criminal and civil cases arise from McCarrick's career as a high-ranking prelate in the Catholic Church. Presently, the dioceses and archdioceses where McCarrick served as an archbishop and a bishop are facing civil lawsuits as a result of his history of sexual abuse. The Catholic Church in New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington DC are all waiting for the next shoe to drop to determine the extent of the damage wrought by a man who was a bishop, archbishop and cardinal for more than 40 years.
The McCarrick saga is just another in a long line of horror stories for ordinary Catholics who continue to read about wayward priests and bishops. However, the revelation of criminal charges against McCarrick, the highest Catholic Church official to be criminally charged with abuse, has sent the Church reeling once again.