Cardinal Faces Sexual Abuse Allegation From First Person He Baptized

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A Virginia man filed a police report Monday alleging that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused him for years, beginning at age 11.

The man, identified only as James in order to protect a sibling, was allegedly the first child that McCarrick baptized two weeks after becoming a priest. James alleged that McCarrick, who his siblings referred to as “Uncle Teddy,” singled him out “to be his special boy” when he was a priest in New York and sexually abused him for almost 20 years beginning in 1969. News that the Catholic Church had removed McCarrick from ministry in June over “credible allegations” that he had abused another teen encouraged James to come forward with his report. (RELATED: Bishop Refuses To Give Pope-Ordered Clergy Sex Abuse Report To Chilean Authorities)

James said that he tried to tell his family that he was being abused as a teenager, but that McCarrick was so close to his family that they did not believe him and that no one else believed him either. As a result, James remained silent for 40 years.

“He had chosen me to be his special boy,” James told The New York Times. “If I go back to my family, they tell me that it’s good for you to be with him. And if you go to try to tell somebody, they say ‘I think you are mistaken.’ So what you do is you clam up, and you stay inside your own little shoe box, and you don’t come out for 40 years.”

James alleged that McCarrick’s abuse of him turned overtly physical when he was 13 years old. McCarrick would engage him in sexual acts that stopped short of intercourse and that didn’t include kissing or holding hands, much like the abuse described by the adult seminarian who alleged that McCarrick abused him and others on retreats. James said that he was one of the young men who accompanied McCarrick on those retreats, and that the abuse continued even during his early years in the Navy when McCarrick would invite him to hotels outside Chicago and in California where James was stationed at different times.

James said that McCarrick’s ongoing abuse of him contributed to his struggles with alcohol and drugs, which also contributed to the failure of his marriage.

James’ sister, Karen, said that while the allegations came as a shock, they made sense of what seemed from the outside to be the senselessly horrible life that her brother led.

“My brother has had such a horrible life,” she told the NYT. “It just doesn’t make any sense, that his life would have been so different from his six siblings. Father Ted was supposed to fix this horrible boy, and he sure fixed him.”

James’ lawyer told the NYT that his police report would be forward to the sex crimes investigators in New Jersey, San Francisco and possibly New York. Statute of limitations laws may prevent criminal or civil suits, but James’ lawyer said they will try anyway and that they will also seek compensation from the church.

A source close to McCarrick, the retired archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., said that McCarrick had not heard the allegations and therefore could not yet respond, but that he is committed to following the Catholic Church’s processes concerning the handling of abuse allegations.

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