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Ex-Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Deemed Unfit to Stand Trial

A Massachusetts judge decided Wednesday, that Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was unfit to stand trial on charges he sexually assaulted a teenage boy decades ago because both prosecutors and defense attorneys agree he is experiencing dementia, the Associated Press reports. McCarrick, the ex-archbishop of Washington, D.C., was removed by Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal Vatican investigation determined he sexually molested adults as well as children. The McCarrick scandal negatively impacted the credibility of the church, primarily because there was evidence Vatican and U.S. church leaders knew of his sexual relations with the seminarians but turned a blind eye. During Wednesday’s hearing, Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a psychologist hired by the prosecution, said she found significant deficits in McCarrick’s memory during two interviews in June, and he was often unable to recall what they had discussed from one hour to the next. As with any form of dementia, she said there are no medications that could improve the symptoms. “It’s not just that he currently has these deficits,” Nelligan said. “There is no way they are going to get better.”

McCarrick faces charges that say he abused the teenage 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 more than 45 years ago. McCarrick’s attorneys asked the court to dismiss the case, saying a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine had examined him and concluded that he likely had Alzheimer’s disease. Lawyers said McCarrick had a “limited understanding” of the criminal proceedings against him. McCarrick, who lives in Dittmer, Missouri, was also charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14. He was not exempt from facing charges for abuse allegations that date back decades because the clock on the statute of limitations was paused once he left Massachusetts. Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known lawyer for clergy sexual abuse victims who is representing the man accusing McCarrick, said in June that his client was discouraged by the prosecution’s expert findings. “In spite of the criminal court’s decision today,” Garabedian said Wednesday, “many clergy sexual abuse victims feel as though former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is and will always be the permanent personification of evil within the Catholic Church.”


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