Lawsuit claims McCarrick ‘groomed’ abuse victims

A man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he and others were sexually abused as boys in the 1980s in New Jersey by Catholic priests and bishops, and were groomed for and by Theodore McCarrick, who went on to become Archbishop of Washington.

The New Jersey lawsuit also claims that McCarrick began sexually abusing boys in 1969, 50 years before he was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019.

The plaintiff in the suit hasn’t been identified, but Jeff Anderson, one of his lawyers, said in a conference call Wednesday: “We bring into bright and broad focus over 50 years of criminal sexual predation by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick – all of it cloaked in papal power.”

The suit claims that a parish priest, Anthony Nardino, violated the plaintiff when he was an 11-year-old altar boy in 1981. The abuse continued until 1983, the lawsuit says, and McCarrick, then the first archbishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, began to participate in 1982.

When the boy was at the Essex Catholic Boys High School, he was being groomed, Anderson said. The principal, Brother Andrew Thomas Hewitt, began to sexually abuse the boy and became “the procurer of this kid, and, we believe, others for McCarrick,” Anderson said. When the boy was having trouble making tuition, Hewitt said, “You have to see the boss” – McCarrick.

The suit claims that Hewitt brought the boy to McCarrick’s residence, as well as a beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey, that was paid for with diocesan money, Anderson said.

At the house, boys were assigned to sleep in various rooms, and priests were assigned with them, the suit says. “In the night, with the assistance of others, McCarrick would creep into this kid’s bed and engage in criminal assault, whispering, ‘It is OK,’” Anderson said.

“There are at least seven minors — children — who McCarrick groomed and who were groomed for McCarrick by others,” Anderson said.

The suit was filed Tuesday against McCarrick, the Dioceses of Metuchen and Newark, and two of the plaintiff’s Catholic schools.

“What he said to us is, ‘It’s time,’” Anderson said of his client. “What he wants is for what has been done to him and other kids for so long to not happen again.”

Mike Finnegan said: “It’s time for the bishops and the Pope to come clean about what they knew about Cardinal McCarrick. They’ve been holding on to the secrets for 50 years.”

After the incidents alleged in the suit, McCarrick became Archbishop of Newark in 1987. He became Archbishop of Washington in 2000 and retired in 2006.

McCarrick was one of the highest-ranking, most visible Catholic Church officials in the United States. He was defrocked in February at age 89 after a church investigation determined he sexually abused minors, as well as adult seminarians.

New laws in several states, including New York and New Jersey, have allowed victims of abuse to sue even though the statute of limitations may have passed.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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