When defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged in 2021 with molesting a teenage boy in Massachusetts in 1974, he became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the country to face criminal sex abuse charges. In April of 2023, he was charged again. This time, he faces accusations in Wisconsin of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in 1977. In addition to the criminal charges against him, McCarrick has been named in numerous civil suits alleging sexual misconduct.
The new accusations come as numerous states around the country are updating their sexual assault laws. Since 2018, more than a dozen states have made changes making it easier for sexual assault victims to seek justice. Some states suspended the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse altogether, some raised the age limit to make claims, and others created temporary “lookback windows” allowing survivors to sue their abusers no matter how many years ago the abuse happened.
McCarrick Accused of Dozens of Alleged Sex Assaults
Below is an overview of some of the criminal charges, civil claims, and investigative findings of clergy sexual abuse against McCarrick:
- 2023 (Wisconsin): Criminally charged with fondling an 18-year-old man in 1977 while staying at a cabin. The alleged victim said that McCarrick repeatedly sexually assaulted him since he was 11 years old.
- 2021 (Massachusetts): Criminally charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a wedding reception in 1974. In early 2023, McCarrick’s lawyers tried to have the charges dismissed, saying he has dementia and is not mentally competent to stand trial.
- 2020 (New Jersey): Accused in a civil suit of raping and sexually assaulting an adolescent boy more than 50 times from 1985 to 1990.
- 2019 (Vatican): Expelled from the priesthood after a Vatican investigation confirmed rumors that he had sexually molested both adults and children. A subsequent investigation revealed that church leadership downplayed or ignored reports of sexual misconduct.
- 2018 (New York): Removed from public ministry after the church found “credible and substantiated” allegations that he fondled a teenager while a priest in New York in 1971 and 1972.
Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyers
Childhood sexual abuse often causes lasting psychological harm that may not be fully realized until years later. Massachusetts law recognizes this and gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse much longer to file a claim than survivors of adult sexual assault. If you were molested as a minor, you have 35 years from when the acts happened to sue your abuser. Since the clock doesn’t start running until you turn 18, however, you may have until age 53 to file suit.
Even if the abuse happened many years ago and you’re not sure if you can still file a claim, an experienced attorney can help you evaluate your options. In addition to potentially receiving financial compensation for your injuries, a sex abuse lawsuit in civil court can help you seek justice regardless of whether the abuser is charged criminally.
If you were assaulted by a priest, pastor, counselor, teacher, or another employee of a religious organization, contact us 24/7 for a free confidential consultation with a compassionate sexual abuse victims’ lawyer.