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McCarrick case suspended in Wisconsin court

A Wisconsin judge suspended a sexual assault case against Theodore McCarrick on Wednesday, after a court-appointed psychologist found the former cardinal incompetent to stand trial.

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The Pillar file photo.

With the case against McCarrick, 93, effectively ended in Wisconsin, the former cardinal is no longer facing the prospect of criminal sanction in any U.S. jurisdiction. 

In August, a Massachusetts judge dismissed assault charges against McCarrick in that state, also because the former cardinal was found to be impeded by dementia from participating in his own defense.

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McCarrick was charged in April with one count of fourth-degree sexual assault in Wisconsin, stemming from an alleged incident in April 1977. He is accused of fondling an 18-year-old boy’s genitals when they were both guests at a house in Geneva Lake. 

Wisconsin’s Department of Justice announced that the charges came out of an attorney general probe into Catholic dioceses in state. That probe has faced criticism from both Catholic official and some victims’ advocates. The Milwaukee archdiocese has criticized the review as targeted anti-Catholicism, while one victims’ advocacy group says the state’s AG has not done enough to pursue records on alleged sexual abuse cases. 

The alleged victim in the Wisconsin case, identified by Fox6 as James Grein, said McCarrick was close to his family, and alleged that he was 11 years old when McCarrick first exposed himself and soon after began to sexually assault him, frequently at parties.

Grein also said McCarrick had non-consensual intercourse with him, and had taken him on one occasion to an event where multiple adult males had intercourse with him, although those alleged events did not take place in Wisconsin and are not part of the Wisconsin criminal charges.

In 2018, Grein told the New York Times that he had been frequently abused by McCarrick, a family friend. Grein alleges that the abuse began when he was 11, in the early 1970s, before McCarrick was ordained a bishop.

In court Wednesday, Walworth County’s Judge David Reddy suspended the case against McCarrick, but declined to dismiss the charges entirely. The judge said he will review the case again in late December.

Grein’s attorney told The Pillar Jan. 10 that his client has not given up hope of seeing McCarrick face criminal prosecution.

“My client is a courageous and determined clergy sexual abuse survivor who will continue to seek validation and justice in the civil courts of NJ and NY against former U.S. Cardinal McCarrick and all relevant parties,” said lawyer Mitchell Garabedian on Wednesday.

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Charges were dropped against McCarrick in Massachusetts last August. In that state, the former cardinal was charged in 2021 with molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1974 at a Massachusetts wedding reception.

But in June, an expert hired by the state of Massachusetts recommended that McCarrick should be judged incompetent to stand trial on the decades-old sexual assault charges.

McCarrick, who was laicized by the Vatican in 2019, was the first U.S. Catholic bishop to face criminal charges over sexual assault allegations.

While numerous allegations of sexual abuse have surfaced against McCarrick over the last five years, and he has been found guilty in a Vatican administrative penal process, most U.S. allegations against McCarrick fell beyond state statutes of limitation, effectively preventing his prosecution in state courts.

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