An expert for the prosecution in the case against former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has stated that McCarrick is not competent to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Massachusetts decades ago, casting doubt on the future of the criminal case against the 92-year-old.

Prosecutors recently revealed the findings of their expert to the judge, who will ultimately determine whether McCarrick is able to face charges of abusing the boy at a wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974.

McCarrick has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty in September 2021. He was also charged in April with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in Wisconsin over 45 years ago.

In February, McCarrick’s lawyers requested that the case be dismissed, citing a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who examined McCarrick and concluded that he has dementia, likely Alzheimer’s disease.

At that time, the lawyers stated that McCarrick had a “limited understanding” of the criminal proceedings against him due to his cognitive deficits.

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Prosecutors later hired their own expert to assess McCarrick’s competency, but the report has not been made public. A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for August 30.

McCarrick, who resides in Dittmer, Missouri, has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14. The statute of limitations did not apply to him as it stopped when he left Massachusetts.

Mitchell Garabedian, a prominent lawyer for clergy sexual abuse victims representing the man accusing McCarrick, expressed disappointment with the prosecution expert’s findings. However, he stated that his client remains determined to pursue lawsuits filed in other states.

“By proceeding with the civil lawsuits, my client is empowering himself, other clergy sexual abuse victims, and making the world safer for children,” Garabedian said.

Former Washington Archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick listens during a news conference in Washington on May 16, 2006. A prosecution expert said on June 29, 2023, that McCarrick is not competent to stand trial on charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Massachusetts decades ago. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Associated Press generally does not identify individuals who report sexual assault without their public consent, which the victim in this case has not given.

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The accuser explained to authorities during a 2021 interview that McCarrick was close to his family while he was growing up. Prosecutors stated that McCarrick would attend family gatherings, go on vacations with them, and that the victim referred to the priest as “Uncle Ted.”

Prosecutors allege that McCarrick abused the accuser over several years, including at his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College when the accuser was 16 years old.

According to the documents, prosecutors claim that McCarrick told the accuser that his father wanted him to have a conversation with the priest because the accuser was misbehaving at home and not attending church. The accuser told investigators that they went for a walk on campus, during which McCarrick groped him. After returning to the reception, McCarrick also sexually assaulted him in a coat room. Prosecutors stated that McCarrick instructed the accuser to recite the “Hail Mary” and “Our Father” prayers before leaving the room.

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McCarrick was ordained as a priest in New York City in 1958 and was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 following a Vatican investigation that determined he had sexually molested both adults and children. An internal Vatican investigation revealed that reports of McCarrick’s misconduct had been downplayed or dismissed by bishops, cardinals, and popes over the years.

The case brought a credibility crisis for the church, as the Vatican had received reports from authoritative cardinals as early as 1999 regarding McCarrick’s problematic behavior, yet he went on to become an influential cardinal and representative of the Holy See’s “soft diplomacy.”

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