Alleged victim of Theodore McCarrick says ex-cardinal abused him for years

James Grein speaks at the Silence Stops Now rally in Baltimore Nov 13 2018 Credit Christine Rousselle CNA CNA James Grein speaks at the Silence Stops Now rally in Baltimore, Nov. 13, 2018. | Christine Rousselle/CNA.

The criminal complaint filed in Wisconsin this week against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was revealed to have come from James Grein, who has previously accused the laicized clergyman of serially abusing him over many years in several U.S. states.

Grein filed the only previous criminal complaint against McCarrick, now facing adjudication in Massachusetts court.

The complaint, filed in Wisconsin in Walworth County Court, says McCarrick abused an unnamed victim with an unnamed accomplice at Geneva Lake in April 1977, according to the Washington Post. McCarrick faces a criminal charge of fourth-degree sexual assault for the alleged incident.

Grein, who is now in his 60s, told FOX6 News Milwaukee on Monday that he filed the complaint.

“I really felt a sigh of relief,” Grein said. “It was important to hear that somebody else believed me, and they were going to go forward with the charges, and it gave me great relief.”

“God works slowly, but he is never late,” said Grein, who came forward with his allegations in mid-2018 and was later deposed in a canonical court of the Archdiocese of New York.

McCarrick has denied previous allegations from Grein.

The incident allegedly occurred at a Geneva Lake residence in which McCarrick is accused of “fondling of the victim’s genitals,” the Wisconsin Department of Justice said in an April 16 statement. Geneva Lake is near the Illinois border, about an hour and 20-minute drive south of the city of Madison.

“It’s incredibly important because I remember this like it was yesterday,” Grein told FOX6 News Milwaukee. “I can close my eyes and see exactly what is happening to me.”

Barry Coburn, McCarrick’s civil attorney, declined comment to CNA. CNA sought comment from Grein’s attorney Mitchell Garabedian but did not receive a response by publication.

The alleged Geneva Lake incident took place months before McCarrick was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New York.

Concerning the same incident, the complaint says a second unnamed man committed sexual assault against the teenage victim. The victim was in the water off the dock at the Geneva Lake residence “when the defendant and another adult male entered the water.” Both McCarrick and the unnamed man allegedly fondled the teen without his consent.

According to the Washington Post, the victim described being disturbed by the incident. He ran into the house and then asked for a ride to a train station.

Grein claims that McCarrick, who was a longtime friend of his family, began abusing him in the 1970s when he was 11 years old. At that time McCarrick was in his late 30s and a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. Grein said the abuse continued for years and sometimes took place during sacramental confession.

The criminal complaint concerns a 46-year-old incident. However, it says the statute of limitations doesn’t apply “when a defendant is not publicly a resident of the State of Wisconsin.” The statute of limitations freezes when the defendant leaves the state.

A Massachusetts abuse allegation against McCarrick falls into a similar legal category. In criminal charges filed in July 2021, Grein said McCarrick abused him in 1986 on the occasion of the wedding reception of Grein’s older brother on the campus of Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Because McCarrick was not a Massachusetts resident and left the state before the statute of limitations expired, the time limit for criminal charges of sex abuse to be filed did not apply in his case.

McCarrick pleaded not guilty in the case. On Feb. 27 of this year, his attorneys 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 next day, McCarrick told that he remembers Grein.

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“The things he said about me are not true,” McCarrick said.

Massachusetts prosecutors have said they want their own expert to evaluate McCarrick’s mental health.

McCarrick, 92, was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adults. The Washington Post reported that the allegations against McCarrick have come from 14 victims who were minors at the time and at least five adults, including clergy and seminarians.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice in an April 16 statement said that the alleged Geneva Lake incident was reported to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Clergy and Faith Leader Abuse initiative, which aims to “provide victims and survivors with an independent and thorough review of the sexual abuse committed by clergy and faith leaders in Wisconsin, no matter when that abuse occurred.”

The criminal complaint was not immediately available at the time of the Department of Justice’s announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld.

“As in any criminal proceeding, Mr. McCarrick is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Sunday.

McCarrick served as bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey; archbishop of Newark; and archbishop of Washington. He was deeply influential in the Catholic Church and prominent in American society and on the global stage.

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The Vatican conducted an inquiry into the Catholic Church’s institutional knowledge and decision-making concerning McCarrick’s abuse. Among its findings, published in a November 2020 report, the Holy See had received some inaccurate information about McCarrick from several New Jersey bishops, including comments that flatly denied or omitted reports of abuse, before McCarrick’s 2001 appointment as archbishop of Washington.

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