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BREAKING: Massachusetts Sex Abuse Charges Against McCarrick Dismissed; He’s Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial

Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick arrives at Dedham District Court in Dedham, Mass., Sept. 3, 2021, after being charged with molesting a 16-year-old boy during a 1974 wedding reception. A medical expert consulted by Massachusetts prosecutors says McCarrick is not competent to stand trial. (Photo: OSV News/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — A Massachusetts judge ruled Aug. 30 that Theodore McCarrick, a 93-year-old former U.S. Cardinal, was not competent enough, due to advanced dementia, to stand trial on charges of sexual abuse in that state. 

Dedham District Court Judge Paul McCallum, who announced the ruling, granted the prosecution’s request to dismiss the charges against McCarrick for sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Massachusetts in 1974. 

The alleged assault happened at a wedding reception at Wellesley College. The accuser, who was 11 years old at the time, told police that the former prelate also continued to abuse him years later. 

During the Aug. 30 hearing, Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a forensic psychologist, said McCarrick suffers significant cognitive deficits and suffers from dementia. 

A report by The Associated Press said Nelligan testified that McCarrick not only “currently has these deficits,” but she added that he was not able to recall what had been discussed from one hour to the next, and no medications could help that. 

Without being able to remember discussions, he could not participate with his lawyers in his defense, she said. 

McCarrick, the only U.S. Cardinal ever charged with sex crimes, appeared via a video link during the hearing but did not speak. He has previously denied allegations against him and pleaded not guilty in 2021 in the Massachusetts case. 

He was also charged in April with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old in Wisconsin in 1977. 

In February, McCarrick’s attorneys asked the court to dismiss the Massachusetts case, saying a professor of psychiatry had examined him and concluded that he has dementia, likely Alzheimer’s disease. 

At that time, lawyers said McCarrick had a limited understanding of the criminal proceedings against him.

Four months later, an expert hired by the state of Massachusetts to conduct an evaluation of McCarrick similarly said the former cardinal was not competent to stand trial on the criminal sex abuse charges against him in the state. 

McCarrick was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal investigation found he had abused minors and seminarians for decades.

Mathew Schmalz, professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, said the judge’s decision “will hurt victims, to be sure.” 

He said the bigger issue is “why warnings about McCarrick went unheeded for so long. The investigation into McCarrick shouldn’t end with the prosecutors’ decision in this specific aspect of his case.”