(OSV News) — Disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose attorneys have argued he should not stand trial due to “progressive and irreparable cognitive deficits,” recalled the name of the man he allegedly sexually abused as a child, although he denied the sexual assaults.
McCarrick, 92, was questioned by a NorthJersey.com reporter during a brief phone interview the day after his attorney filed a Feb. 27 motion in Dedham District Court in Massachusetts seeking to have the charges dismissed.
According to the report, the reporter called McCarrick at the assisted living facility where he resides in Missouri.
During the conversation, McCarrick was informed the reporter wanted to ask about the abuse. Asked how he was feeling, McCarrick told the reporter he was “feeling well, considering that I am 92 years old. It’s not like I’m 40 or 50 anymore.”
Asked if he remembered the man he is accused of abusing as a child more than 50 years ago, McCarrick said he did.
“Yes. I remember him,” McCarrick answered.
McCarrick went on to deny he abused the man when asked about the allegations.
“It is not true,” McCarrick said. “The things (the victim) said about me are not true.”
Because the victim alleging sexual assault has not chosen to reveal his name in this criminal case, following Associated Press standards, OSV News is not including the victim’s name in this report.
McCarrick asked the reporter to speak to his attorney if there were any further questions about the case and the allegations.
“I don’t want to speak of these things … You can speak to my lawyer,” McCarrick reportedly said. “I hope you will not do a snow job on me.”
McCarrick’s attorneys Barry Coburn and Daniel Marx, filed the Feb. 27 motion seeking to have the charges dismissed, arguing that a mental health evaluation found the former prelate was incompetent to stand trial due to advancing and irreversible dementia.
“While he has a limited understanding of the criminal proceedings against him, his progressive and irreparable cognitive deficits render him unable to meaningfully consult with counsel or to effectively assist in his own defense,” Coburn and Marx stated.
Last year, McCarrick’s attorneys hired David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to conduct the evaluation. While the report Schretlen produced is currently under seal, the lawyers say it shows McCarrick cannot stand trial.
Schretlen’s report allegedly showed McCarrick performed worse on cognitive tests than 92% of men his age, and that he was unable to remember facts about the case, including names of potential witnesses, according to the motion to dismiss.
Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney for the alleged victim, isn’t surprised that McCarrick could remember the man when confronted by a reporter despite the legal claims he is in mental decline.
Garabedian said McCarrick was employing a “commonly used strategy” of “denial, deception and cover up” he has seen in dealing with the Catholic Church in civil and criminal sexual abuse cases.
“And former Cardinal McCarrick is using that strategy in the criminal case,” he told OSV News.
Garabedian noted he deposed McCarrick in 2020 for the civil lawsuits the alleged victim brought, and the former cardinal sat for six hours answering questions about the case without reported issues.
McCarrick was charged in 2021 with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14 in the Massachusetts court. According to court records, McCarrick was close to the victim’s family, celebrating Mass at their home and even going on trips with them. The victim told investigators that McCarrick’s abuse took place during trips out of state. It was also under the guise of providing spiritual direction to the victim that the abuse took place, according to the criminal complaint.
One incident allegedly took place in the 1970s at the wedding reception for the victim’s brother, which was held on the Wellesley College campus. McCarrick allegedly got the victim, 16 at this time, to go outside with him to talk about the victim not attending Mass. During this encounter, McCarrick fondled the victim, according to the criminal complaint.
Allegedly, the pair went back to the reception where McCarrick told the victim he had to go to confession, using a closet for privacy. Then, using the sacrament as cover, McCarrick continued to abuse the boy, according to the complaint. McCarrick then gave the victim three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary as penance, according to the complaint.
McCarrick faces up to five years in prison on each count if convicted.
Prosecutors with the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office plan to bring in their own expert to examine McCarrick in the coming months to determine if they agree with the assessment. If the experts disagree, it could result in a hearing where a judge would decide whether McCarrick can stand trial.
If McCarrick is found incompetent to stand trial that would not necessarily end the case. It would then need to be determined if McCarrick could be brought back to competency through medical treatment, although that scenario is unlikely given the reported diagnosis.