A state lawsuit accuses the defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of a running a sex ring.
“All of it cloaked in papal power,” said Jeff Anderson, the plaintiff’s attorney.
The suit alleges McCarrick began molesting young altar servers and seminarians in 1969, and in the 1980s he allegedly got plenty of help from other men of the cloth — some deceased and some credibly accused.
The lawsuit details what a then-11-year-old, unidentified boy says took place. The suit refers to him as “Doe 14” and it alleges Father Anthony Nardino sexually abused the boy at church. The principal of Essex Catholic High School, the now-deceased Brother Andrew Hewitt, did as well, and groomed him and introduced him to McCarrick when the boy’s family had financial trouble paying tuition.
“Brother Hewitt became the procurer,” Anderson said.
Allegedly for McCarrick and trips to McCarrick’s beach house in Sea Girt, which was paid for by the Metuchen Diocese. It’s where McCarrick assigned where priests and boys would sleep.
“In the night, with the assistance of others, McCarrick would creep into this kid’s bed and engage in criminal sexual assault of him, whispering ‘It is OK,'” Anderson said.
The suit alleges the sexual abuse was known to the Vatican as Pope John Paul II and other popes were promoting McCarrick into the Diocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen.
A spokesperson for the Metuchen diocese said, “ … our prayers are with all survivors of abuse, today and always and we stand with them in their journey toward healing and help. Our diocese renews our commitment to prevent these types of abuse from ever happening again.”
A spokesperson for the Newark Archdiocese says it wouldn’t comment on pending litigation and it remains committed to transparency and working with law enforcement to bring closure.
Last year, McCarrick told Slate Magazine, “I’m not as bad as they paint me. I do not believe that I did the things they accused me of.”
McCarrick’s response to multiple boys making similar complaints about him: “I think that they were encouraged to do that.”
“It’s time for the truth to come out. It’s time for Pope Francis to stop promises, stop the pledges and come clean,” said Mike Finnegan, an attorney for the plantiff.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages under a new state law making it easier to sue for abuse years ago. Two years ago, the state attorney general began investigating predatory priests and opened a hotline to take complaints.
Attorneys for Doe 14 say they deposed McCarrick, but would not disclose what he said. The deposition, they say, is sealed.