For the first time since criminal court proceedings began against him, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick spoke publicly about allegations that he sexually abused a teenager at a wedding ceremony in the 1970s in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

In an interview with, McCarrick said the alleged victim’s testimony was “not true.” The telephone conversation took place one day after McCarrick filed a motion claiming he is unfit to stand trial due to dementia.

The alleged victim in the case against McCarrick was also identified by for the first time as James Grein, a 64-year-old former New Jersey resident. Grein went public in 2018 to the New York Times, which referred to him only by his first name, with allegations that the now-laicized clergyman had serially sexually abused him beginning when he was 11.

McCarrick, laicized by Pope Francis in 2019, held one of the highest offices in the Catholic Church and has been accused of sexually abusing minors and seminarians. 

Despite these accusations of sexual misconduct, the charges in Massachusetts, to which McCarrick has pleaded not guilty, are the first criminal proceedings against him.

“Do you remember James Grein?” the reporter asked McCarrick on a 10-minute phone call Feb. 28. 

“Yes. I remember him,” McCarrick responded to the reporter. Speaking of the allegations against him, McCarrick said, “It is not true.” 

“The things he said about me are not true,” he added. “If you want more information about it, you can talk to my lawyers.”

The outlet reported that it attempted to reach McCarrick by phone several times before he returned the call. McCarrick told the outlet that he was currently in Missouri and that he was “feeling well, considering that I am 92 years old. It’s not like I’m 40 or 50 anymore.”

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McCarrick declined to discuss the criminal case against him but answered questions about Grein “politely,” the outlet reported.

“I don’t want to speak of these things,” McCarrick said. “You can speak to my lawyer.”

Before getting off the phone, McCarrick told the outlet, “I hope you will not do a snow job on me.” 

Grein told the outlet that McCarrick was a close friend of his family and would attend their gatherings. McCarrick was given the nickname “Uncle Ted,” he said.

“He sexually and spiritually abused me,” Grein said. He said that McCarrick had abused him in his home, hotels, and during confession. 

On Feb. 27, McCarrick filed a motion in Dedham District Court in Massachusetts claiming he is “legally incompetent” to stand trial for sex abuse charges, citing “significant, worsening, and irreversible dementia.”

The court filing cited a neurological exam of McCarrick conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Schretlen’s report, which is unavailable to the public, concluded that McCarrick has a “severe cognitive disorder” and “everyday functional disability” that classifies as dementia and is most likely due to Alzheimer’s disease, the court filing says.

The court filing says that although McCarrick “remains intelligent and articulate,” he is unable to stand trial because his dementia prevents him from “meaningfully consulting with counsel and effectively participating in his own defense.”

The state of Massachusetts told CNA that it wants an opportunity to examine McCarrick’s competency to stand trial.