Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked by The Vatican in 2019 over sex abuse allegations, pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older at an arraignment in Dedham District Court in Massachusetts Friday.
A judge set a $5000 cash bail, ordering McCarrick to have no contact with the alleged victim or any minors under the age of 18.
A Norfolk County prosecutor told the judge that McCarrick “immersed himself into the fabric of the victim’s family, and then used his status as a priest to access and prey upon the victim.”
“He specifically used the act of confession to get the victim away from his parents and from his siblings and then would sexually assault the victim during that time frame,” she said.
A scrum of alleged victims and press met McCarrick outside the courthouse yelling at him as he slowly shuffled with a walker flanked by several court officers to a waiting car.
CNN has reached out to McCarrick’s attorney for comment.
The criminal charges make McCarrick the highest-ranking Catholic official in the US to face criminal charges for sex abuse of a minor, according to the unnamed victim’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.
“Historically, this is the first time ever in the United States that a Cardinal has been criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor,” Garabedian said in a previous news release. “It takes an enormous amount of courage for a sexual abuse victim to report having been sexually abused to investigators and proceed through the criminal process.”
McCarrick has maintained his innocence in the past regarding previous allegations.
Raised to cardinal in 2001 by John Paul, a year after he became Archbishop of Washington, McCarrick went on to become a power player both in the Church and in Washington, DC, and was known for his fundraising and influence overseas.
He resigned from the College of Cardinals in 2018 and was defrocked by the Vatican in 2019 after a Church trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors.
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