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James Grein, who was abused by Theodore McCarrick for 18 years, starting at age 11, testified in the New Jersey State Senate Monday in a hearing to consider extending the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex abuse. Current state law limits civil lawsuits to only two years after the abuse. The proposed bill would open up a two-year window for victims at any time to give them the opportunity to sue the priest or diocese.
Grein was the last of 15 abuse survivors to testify before the Judiciary Committee in a closed-door session Monday morning.
"I introduced myself and the room was silent," Grein told Church Militant. "Everyone on the panel stopped and turned to me. They did not know I was coming, but they know who I am."
"They listened intently when I told them that this document I hold in my hand [my case] took less than six months to laicize the most powerful man in the U.S. Catholic Church," Grein continued, "and what he did to me was horrifying and disturbing."
The measure faced opposition from several state lawmakers, and the vote was expected to be close. According to Grein, after the victims' testimonies, the final vote on the committee was 7–0.
Grein gave Church Militant permission to publish his full address to the Judiciary Committee.
Thank you for permitting me to speak to you today. And thank you to all for being here, especially all who suffer from any abuse.
I am James Grein, the child — now man — who was physically, mentally and spiritually abused by Theodore McCarrick for 18+ years.
He started to groom me as soon as he met me. McCarrick was a family friend, trusted by my father, trusted by my grandfather, Otto Edelmann of Teaneck, New Jersey. My father had great respect for my grandfather, so McCarrick was a shoe-in as a part of the inner circle of the family. McCarrick was warmly welcomed to every family event. He presided in five of seven family marriages. I was his first baptism.
The sad part is: No one knew he was living a double life. We do now! McCarrick has been laicized by Pope Francis and the CRB on January 11, 2019. The news was made public after a short appeal was presented by McCarrick. He still denies everything. Still covering for the institution.
The abuse began when I was only 11 years old, on Thanksgiving and Christmas 1969, at 480 Winthrop Road in Teaneck, New Jersey. McCarrick took me upstairs to a bedroom to hear my confession.
Much of my story has been published in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Sara Sullivan, New York assistant attorney general, has my full story and claim that I sent to the New York archdiocese. I have sent a copy to the New Jersey attorney general's office and members of the New Jersey State Senate.
Nothing about me would ever have been written had it not been for the courage of another victim, who accused McCarrick of abusing him when he was a 16-year-old altar boy. That man's claim was deemed credible, and McCarrick was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance.
At that point I knew that finally I could tell my story.
But going forward, canon law found this evidence as not credible. The altar boy was 16 and the altar boy approached McCarrick. Cardinal Dolan, who announced the evidence was credible, needed a clear-cut case. Otherwise McCarrick was a free man ... to continue his evil ways, with revenge.
My time has come — now. I and so many others in this situation need your help. The U.S. legal system has allowed the Church to shield itself far too long. The Church hierarchy spends hundreds of millions each year filling lobbyists' pockets making sure the statutes of limitations are not changed. Imagine that, millions to cover their explicitly evil lifestyle ...
If a priest was caught or accused of abuse, his bishop would send the priest off for "evaluation." Never tell the authorities, or if the victim did tell the authorities, the bishop would drag this case out, sit on information for as long as possible.
It has taken too long for victims to come forward because there was no place for their claims to be heard.
More than 130 U.S. bishops — nearly one third of those still living — have been accused of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct claims. So, as I once said, why bother? No one would believe.
Well, now is the time for bother.
I do this so that others like me will have the strength to come forward. Think about what you can do to help others. This state justice must continue to gain strength. The strength can only come from lifting the statutes of limitations for abuse victims from Catholic priests, nuns, deacons, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes.
The Catholic Church must know that the jig is up. We need actions which will guarantee that this problem is addressed and addressed fairly. This can only happen if there is complete transparency and the bishops act as true stewards of Christ's Church, and pressure is put upon them by states opening the statutes of limitations.
McCarrick has been laicized. He is no longer a priest. But he and thereafter his ghost will forever haunt the American Church and those he abused.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have come upon a great historical chance, a holy gift. To expose, to punish, and to finally rid Jesus' Church of a great evil.
I was abused five times as a minor in New Jersey, and many more as an adult. The final time was at my mother's funeral in Ho-Ho-Kus, where he said to me: "Go ahead and try; no one will ever believe you. I am the most powerful man in the U.S.A. if not the world. I will crush you in the media, and if that isn't enough, I have friends who can help me."
I turned and cried. He ruined my life, and I can't do anything about it.
Thank you and God bless.