Theodore McCarrick Abuse Lawsuit Still Pending in New Jersey

The civil case involving an adolescent boy has received significant media attention due to the graphic nature of the allegations.

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick arrives at Massachusetts' Dedham District Courthouse for his arraignment on Sept. 3, 2021.
Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick arrives at Massachusetts' Dedham District Courthouse for his arraignment on Sept. 3, 2021. (photo: Andrew Bukuras / CNA)

One of the more graphic sexual-abuse lawsuits against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is still pending in New Jersey after the parties recently failed to settle the nearly-two-year-old case, court filings show.

The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark in September 2020, accuses McCarrick of raping and sexually assaulting an unnamed adolescent boy on more than 50 occasions from 1985 to 1990.

The lawsuit also names the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen as defendants, alleging that they failed to protect the boy from McCarrick while he led those New Jersey dioceses. All the defendants deny the claims against them.

The parties met with a private mediator June 23 but were unable to settle the case, court records show.

“At this juncture, the parties do not believe that another settlement conference will be productive,” the plaintiff’s lawyers, Mark Lefkowitz and Kevin Mulhearn, wrote in a July 21 letter to U.S. district court Judge Evelyn Padin.

The lawyers revealed in the letter that the Newark Archdiocese has produced 172,734 pages of documents requested by the plaintiff’s legal team, which is still reviewing the records.

Depositions of McCarrick and the plaintiff, who is now in his late 30s, have taken place, the letter said. Other individuals have yet to be deposed.

McCarrick, 92, was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexually assaulting minors and adults.

The New Jersey lawsuit is one of several civil complaints still pending against McCarrick.

The disgraced prelate also faces criminal prosecution in district court in Dedham, Massachusetts, for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in 1974.

In that case, McCarrick entered a not-guilty plea in September 2021 to three counts of indecent assault and battery. Each charge carries up to five years in prison.

No trial date has been set in the criminal case. The next hearing date is Sept. 8, a spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office told CNA Friday.

The New Jersey civil case involving the alleged rapes of an adolescent boy has received significant media attention due to the graphic nature of the allegations. The 108-page lawsuit also chronicles in detail McCarrick’s steady rise up the Catholic hierarchy, despite multiple warnings and complaints about his alleged predatory behavior toward minors, seminarians and young priests.

According to the lawsuit, McCarrick was “deeply revered, respected, and highly trusted” by the plaintiff’s “extremely devout Catholic” parents and extended family.

“Plaintiff’s parents were thrilled that McCarrick, a high-ranking Catholic bishop whom they viewed as God’s emissary, had decided to single out their family (and their son) for special attention and could not even begin to imagine that McCarrick’s desires toward Plaintiff were sexual or predatory in nature,” the lawsuit states.

“They thus strongly encouraged Plaintiff to spend considerable time with McCarrick, as they viewed his actions toward Plaintiff as a blessed manifestation of God’s grace,” according to the complaint.

In 1985, while McCarrick was bishop of Metuchen, the then-12-year-old boy stayed overnight at the Metuchen rectory with his parents’ approval, the lawsuit states.

The next day, McCarrick took the boy to a beach house owned by the diocese in Sea Girt, New Jersey, where McCarrick sexually assaulted the boy for the first time, the lawsuit alleges.

Subsequent sexual assaults allegedly took place in a variety of other locations, including the rectory in Metuchen, a fishing cabin in the woods at the Eldred Preserve in the Catskills in New York state, and a hotel in Ireland, the lawsuit states.

The assaults continued when McCarrick became archbishop in Newark, the lawsuit states. In one incident alleged to have taken place at McCarrick’s private Newark residence, McCarrick brought another, unidentified priest to the apartment.

“This is my friend. He’s like us. We all do the same thing,” McCarrick allegedly told the then-13- or 14-year-old boy by way of introduction, according to the lawsuit. “I’m gonna leave now. And you two enjoy yourselves.”

The other priest then sexually assaulted and raped the boy, the lawsuit states. After the priest left, McCarrick raped the boy again, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that McCarrick’s alleged predatory behavior was known within the dioceses and spoken of at high levels of the Catholic Church, yet nothing was done to stop him, in part “because McCarrick was an exceptional fundraiser for the Catholic Church, and was charismatic and viewed by many as a rising star in the Church.”

The plaintiff had been a straight-A student prior to McCarrick's abuse, the lawsuit states.

“Upon suffering sexual abuse by McCarrick, however, Plaintiff’s grades slipped dramatically, as he was unable to concentrate, and his behavior at school worsened considerably,” the complaint alleges.

“Plaintiff attended three separate high schools, as he was expelled from several high schools for excessive fighting and general bad behavior. He became a wild, unruly child, prone to bursts of anger and untamed aggression, and frequently got into fights with other children (particularly when other boys touched him, as he hated physical contact with other males),” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff never attended college and instead joined the U.S. Coast Guard, requesting to be stationed in Alaska “to separate himself from McCarrick and his nightmarish experiences to the greatest extent possible,” the lawsuit states.

Lawyers for McCarrick, the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen could not be reached for comment Friday.

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