Law & the Courts

Lawsuit Claims Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Ran Beach House Sex Ring

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at the Vatican in 2013 (Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)

Defrocked ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is already the subject of a Vatican sexual abuse investigation, now faces new allegations that he allegedly ran a “sex cabal” out of his New Jersey beach house. 

In a newly filed lawsuit, an unnamed victim claims McCarrick, now 90 years old, and three other priests molested him beginning when he was 14-years-old during overnight stays at McCarrick’s Jersey Shore house in 1982.

“In the night, with the assistance of others, McCarrick would creep into this kid’s bed and engage in criminal sexual assault of him, whispering, ‘It is OK,’” Jeff Anderson, the attorney for the now 53-year-old victim, said at a virtual press conference Wednesday.

The victim’s attorneys described a scheme of sexual abuse involving at least seven children over dozens of years. Other priests served as “procurers” to bring victims to McCarrick at his beach house where he “assigned sleeping arrangements, choosing his victims from the boys, seminarians and clerics present at the beach house,” and paired victims with adult clerics, the suit alleges.

The suit also details abuse the victim experienced at the hands of priests Michael Walters and John Laferrera, who were permanently removed from ministry, and the late Gerald Ruane — all three of whom were on a list of 188 clergy in the state accused of sexual misconduct, reported. 

Anderson said priests and others under the control of McCarrick engaged in “open and obvious criminal sexual conduct” that was kept cloaked by the church.

“That continued for 50 years until McCarrick, having been publicly exposed, was ultimately defrocked,” he said.

The suit was filed Tuesday in New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County against the Diocese of Metuchen where McCarrick served as bishop, the Archdiocese of Newark where he was archbishop, and several New Jersey schools the victim attended. 

The victim, described as having been raised in a devout Roman Catholic family, attended St. Francis Xavier in Newark and Essex Catholic in East Orange. 

The lawsuit also describes sexual abuse experienced at St. Francis Xavier, when the victim was an 11-year-old altar boy, by Father Anthony Nardino, and at Essex Catholic by Brother Andrew Thomas Hewitt, the then-principal. Hewitt died in 2002, according to an online obituary. Nardino, who has not been publicly accused before, has left the ministry, reported.

Last year, Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick, making him the highest-ranking official in the church to ever be stripped of a title, after a church investigation found he sexually abused minors and adult seminarians. McCarrick has been accused of sexual abuse by James Grein, the first child he baptized, who said McCarrick began molesting him at 11-years-old.

John Bellocchio, a former Catholic schoolteacher and principal, alleged in a lawsuit that McCarrick sexually assaulted him when he was the archbishop of Newark.

When asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement that “it would be inappropriate to discuss or comment on matters in litigation.”

“The Archdiocese of Newark remains fully committed to transparency and to our long-standing programs to protect the faithful and will continue to work with victims, their legal representatives and law enforcement authorities in an ongoing effort to resolve allegations and bring closure to victims,” Maria Margiotta said. 

Anthony Kearns III, spokesperson and chancellor for the Diocese of Metuchen, told the New York Post the diocese was committed to preventing future sexual abuse.

“While we have not yet received the complaint, our prayers are with all survivors of abuse, today and always, and we stand with them in their journey toward healing and hope,” he said. “With God’s grace, all survivors of abuse, particularly those wounded by members of the Church, will continue to heal and move forward.”

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