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  Ex-Cardinal McCarrick Faces Milestone Charges in Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis
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ContributorIndyGeorgia 
Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Jul 29, 2021 09:34pm
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CategoryInvestigation
AuthorElizabeth Dias, Ruth Graham and Liam Stack
News DateFriday, July 30, 2021 01:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe wedding reception took place on a June weekend in 1974. But it was this week that Theodore E. McCarrick, the former Roman Catholic cardinal expelled by Pope Francis, was criminally charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a teenage boy at the event.

The complaint, issued on Wednesday, makes Mr. McCarrick the highest-ranking Catholic official in the United States to face charges in the sexual abuse crisis that has plagued the church for decades.

Mr. McCarrick, 91, the former archbishop of Washington, was expelled from the church in 2019 after a Vatican trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades. But to the frustration of many prosecutors, he avoided punishment time and time again because statutes of limitations made cases difficult to pursue, and victims have lamented that he has largely escaped legal accountability.

Attorneys general in about 20 states, from Nebraska to Illinois to New Jersey, opened investigations into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church following an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report in 2018. But the widespread subpoenas and investigations produced only a handful of criminal charges. Some state officials attempted innovative lawsuit strategies that ultimately did not work.

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.

Mr. McCarrick, who now lives in Missouri, was charged with three 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.
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