Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is not competent to stand trial on criminal sexual abuse charges in Massachusetts, a mental health expert hired by the state said after examining the disgraced ex-prelate.

The update in the case could lead to the dismissal of the first criminal charges against McCarrick, 92, following several accusations of sexual abuse of minors and seminarians, which led to his removal from the clerical state in 2019. Criminal sexual assault charges filed against McCarrick in Wisconsin in April are still pending, as are a number of civil lawsuits.

McCarrick is charged in state court with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14 relating to allegations that he sexually abused the teenager who was a family friend at a wedding ceremony in the 1970s at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. 

That teenager was identified by in February as James Grein, a now-64-year-old former New Jersey resident.

Grein went public with his allegations in 2018 in an interview with the New York Times, which referred to him only by his first name. He told the newspaper that McCarrick had serially sexually abused him beginning when he was 11.

According to a press release from the Norfolk District Attorney Office, the state of Massachusetts had a health expert examine McCarrick in Missouri following McCarrick’s filing of a motion in February claiming he is “legally incompetent” to stand trial, citing “significant, worsening, and irreversible dementia.”

That motion filed by McCarrick’s legal team was supported by a neurological exam of him that was conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

That exam was unavailable to the public, but McCarrick’s lawyers referenced the report in court documents that concluded he has a “severe cognitive disorder” and “everyday functional disability” that classifies as dementia and is most likely due to Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Thursday’s press release, the final report of the state’s exam is not available to the public, either. The health expert who conducted the exam is not identified in the release.

More in US

“The report is lengthy and is being evaluated,” the DA’s office said in the release.

The next hearing “on the available reports” in the case is scheduled for Aug. 30, which may include testimony from the state’s examiner, the press release said.

Barry Coburn, a lawyer for McCarrick, declined to comment Thursday.

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick arrives outside Massachusetts' Dedham District Courthouse for his arraignment, Sept. 3, 2021. Andrew Bukuras/CNA
Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick arrives outside Massachusetts' Dedham District Courthouse for his arraignment, Sept. 3, 2021. Andrew Bukuras/CNA

Although silent through the whole case, which began in late 2021, McCarrick made comments about the charges in a phone call with in February. 

McCarrick told the outlet that Grein’s testimony was “not true.” 

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

(Story continues below)

“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.”

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.