A Wisconsin judge has suspended the sexual assault case against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick after a court-appointed psychologist deemed him not competent to stand trial. The judge did not dismiss the case outright, and the final decision will be made by the Walworth County District Attorney. The case is currently scheduled for a review hearing in December 2024. The charge against McCarrick, who is now 93 years old, is one count of fourth-degree sexual assault.
This recent development in Wisconsin follows a similar outcome in Massachusetts, where McCarrick faced criminal sex abuse charges. A psychological evaluation conducted in that case resulted in a finding of incompetence, leading to the dismissal of the charges. In Massachusetts, McCarrick had been accused of three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 for an alleged sexual assault on a 16-year-old boy in 1974.
McCarrick, who previously led the Archdiocese of Washington, became the first former or current U.S. cardinal to face criminal charges for sexual abuse. In 2019, he was laicized by Pope Francis after a Vatican investigation confirmed that he had sexually abused both minors and adults.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, expressed disappointment but not surprise at the likely lack of criminal prosecution for McCarrick. She extended her sympathy to the victim in this case and to all the other victims of McCarrick’s abuse.
Overall, the decision to suspend the sexual assault case against McCarrick underscores the challenges of prosecuting cases that involve alleged misconduct from many years ago and the complexities of determining a defendant’s competence to stand trial.