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MADISON, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The criminal sexual assault case in Wisconsin against the disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been suspended.
On Wednesday, Walworth County Circuit Court Judge David Reddy suspended the case following a court-appointed psychologist's assessment that McCarrick, aged 93, is not competent to stand trial.
The charges against McCarrick pertain to an alleged sexual assault incident from April 1977 near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The complaint specifically accuses McCarrick and another adult male, identified by the alleged victim as the late Cdl. Joseph Bernardin, of assaulting then-18-year-old James Grein.
Based on the findings of a psychological report filed in November, the suspension effectively ends the last standing criminal case against McCarrick. The Walworth County District Attorney's Office, the prosecutor in the case, indicated it will not contest the report's findings.
The conclusions in that report mirror those of similar evaluations in the Massachusetts case, for which charges against McCarrick were dismissed in August of the previous year owing to the notorious homosexual predator's cognitive decline.
Both assessments in the Massachusetts case, one for the defense and another by a psychologist hired by the prosecution, determined McCarrick's cognitive impairment prevented him from effectively participating in his defense.
The suspended Wisconsin case and the earlier Massachusetts case involve the same alleged victim. This individual, James Grein, who knew McCarrick as a family friend, accused him of years of sexual abuse starting in 1969.
The alleged abuses include incidents during a wedding in Massachusetts in 1974 and while staying at a cabin on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin in 1977.
In Wisconsin, when a defendant is deemed incompetent, the legal proceedings are indefinitely paused, according to Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld.
This suspension, instead of a case dismissal, means that the future of the case remains under the jurisdiction of District Attorney Wiedenfeld.
The case is set for a review hearing on Dec. 27, 2024, to reassess the situation.
The Holy See Press Office announced in January 2019 that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — now called the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith — issued a final decree on McCarrick, who was found guilty of solicitation in the sacrament of confession and violations of the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults.
Confirmed by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation and recognized as definitive by the pope, the decree ended McCarrick's clerical career. He was defrocked, and his cardinalate was rescinded.
When credible allegations of McCarrick's abuse first became public in July 2018, Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States for the Vatican, wrote a public testimony setting off what's become known as the Church's "Summer of Shame." Decades of sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick implicated Pope Francis as well as numerous U.S. and Vatican bishops who were said to have covered up for him, enabling his ascent to power.
McCarrick is the highest-ranking Catholic prelate to face criminal charges in the clergy sex abuse scandal.
Besides the shock wave he set off in the Church, McCarrick is thought to have been an architect of the Vatican's relations with China, having visited China several times ahead of the secretive Vatican-China agreement that Cdl. Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, has called a "total sellout" of the underground Church in China.
Grein, whose testimony was instrumental in McCarrick's Church trial, spoke out following the Vatican's announcement to defrock the notorious prelate.
"Nothing can give me back my childhood, and I have not taken any pleasure in testifying or discussing what happened to me. There are no winners here," he stated at the time.
"With that said, today I am happy that the pope believed me," he continued. "I am hopeful now I can pass through my anger for the last time. I hope that Cdl. McCarrick will no longer be able to use the power of Jesus' Church to manipulate families and sexually abuse children."
The suspension of McCarrick's case in Wisconsin, due to his alleged cognitive decline, leaves the allegations legally unresolved. Given his advanced age, however, McCarrick is one step closer to being held accountable beyond earthly courts.