Until now, the ex-cardinal had always denied the allegations and evaded legal liability. There is now a charge of repeated sexual abuse of a minor.

Dedham (AP) – Former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been charged with sexual abuse allegations in Massachusetts.

The three charges relate to repeated sexual assault against a minor in 1974, several US newspapers reported Thursday (local time), having received the documents from the court in the city of Dedham. The 91-year-old is due to appear in court on September 3.

McCarrick was Archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006. Pope Francis removed him from the cardinal dignity in the summer of 2018. In 2019, about six months later, he released him from the priesthood. McCarrick was previously found guilty of sexual misconduct in his dealings with minors and adults in an investigation by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to US reports, he himself had denied wrongdoing several times.

Francis was also criticized in the scandal. There are allegations that the Argentine Pope has ignored the charges against McCarrick for too long. A report on the handling of the case was published in 2020. It stated that misjudgments, false information and a lack of reliable evidence had prevented the Vatican from responding early, according to its own assessment.

As the Boston Globe newspaper reported Thursday, the plaintiff accuses the former Archbishop of Washington of touching his genitals during wedding celebrations when he was 16 at the time. McCarrick was a friend of the family and often accompanied them on trips. Similar incidents would then have repeated themselves in several US states.

The New York Times reported that, much to the frustration of many prosecutors, he had repeatedly escaped punishment because the statute of limitations had made it difficult to prosecute cases. Victims also complained that he had largely evaded legal responsibility.