Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, already laicized and the subject of a Vatican investigation, is accused in a newly filed lawsuit of orchestrating the abuse of minor boys by multiple other clerics at his New Jersey beach house in the early 1980s.
The suit alleges that the boy needed money to pay for his Catholic education, and that one cleric — who had already sexually abused the boy — told him he needed to talk to “the boss,” and then introduced him to McCarrick, who then allegedly began abusing him.
McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019, has previously been accused of sexual misconduct with at least seven minors, according to three individuals who spoke to The Washington Post for a story in October. One of the individuals is an accuser, one of five McCarrick accusers who are represented by the same attorney. The second is Camille Biros, who is a member of the independent reconciliation and compensation board set up by the New York archdiocese. The third, who has direct knowledge of all the claims U.S. church officials sent to the Vatican for its probe, spoke on the condition of anonymity because canon law forbids unauthorized people to speak about internal cases.
The Vatican said in defrocking McCarrick that he had been credibly accused of sexually harassing seminarians and young priests.
The accuser in Tuesday’s lawsuit is coming forward for the first time, said his attorney, Jeffrey Anderson. His name is not included in the lawsuit, and The Washington Post usually does not publish the names of alleged victims of sexual misconduct without their permission.
Pope Francis in October 2018 launched an investigation into McCarrick and how he rose to such prominence even as rumors and reports to church higher-ups of sexual misconduct streamed in for decades. Anderson said the new accuser has spoken to the Vatican investigators for that ongoing probe.
McCarrick’s civil attorney, Barry Coburn, declined to comment Wednesday. McCarrick, in limited comments he has made since being suspended in 2018, has said he did nothing wrong.
The suit accuses the dioceses of Metuchen and Newark — which oversees Metuchen and where the other accused clerics were based — as well as various schools and parishes within those dioceses of failing to protect children in their youth programs.
The dioceses “knew or should have known that it had numerous agents who had sexually molested children,” the suit says.
The accused clerics aside from McCarrick are: the Rev. Anthony Nardino, Brother Andrew Thomas Hewitt, the Rev. Gerald Ruane, the Rev. Michael Walters and the Rev. John Laferrera. They were all priests in Newark. None could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Ruane, Walters and Laferrera are on Newark’s list of credibly accused clerics. Hewitt and Ruane are deceased, the list says. Hewitt is on the list of credibly accused clerics from the Christian Brothers, the order to which he belonged, according to a ProPublica investigation of accused clerics. Hewitt was the boy’s principal at the time the abuse occurred, the suit alleges.
Nardino left the priesthood and there is a separate, additional claim against him of minor abuse, Anderson said. Walters and Laferrera were removed from the priesthood, Newark’s list says.
The dioceses of Metuchen and Newark declined to comment specifically on the lawsuit, which a Metuchen representative said officials there had not seen. Both said they were committed to victims, prevention, resolution and closure.