Theodore McCarrick, the defrocked former Cardinal, was charged on Wednesday with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old in the 1970s.
McCarrick is now the highest-ranking official in the Catholic Church in the U.S. who has been charged with sexual assault. Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick in 2019 after a church investigation found that he had repeatedly sexually abused minors and adult seminarians.
The criminal complaint filed by Wellesley, Ma., police against McCarrick alleges three counts of indecent assault.
The complaint alleges that McCarrick assaulted the brother of the groom at a wedding in June 1974. The victim, who was not named, told police that McCarrick assaulted him on other occasions over a period of years.
“My client is showing an enormous amount of courage by being a complainant in the criminal process,” Mitchell Garabedian, the man’s attorney, told the Boston Globe. “This is the first cardinal in the United States ever charged criminally for a sexual offense against a minor.”
Several other alleged victims have filed civil suits against McCarrick in New York and New Jersey, saying McCarrick abused them while they were children in incidents from the 1970s to the 1990s. However, police in those states could not file criminal charges because the statute of limitations had expired in those cases.