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NEWARK, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Yet another victim has come forward to accuse disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick of sexual assault.
On Sunday, John Bellocchio of Hackensack filed suit against McCarrick and the archdiocese of Newark, alleging that he was abused as a teenager in the mid-1990s.
According to Bellocchio's complaint, McCarrick, then archbishop of Newark, "inflicted unpermitted harmful and offensive bodily sexual contact" on him "on the premises of a parish."
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, attorney Jeff Anderson, who specializes in clerical sex abuse cases, explained that "John Bellocchio has made the choice — and a very courageous one — to do something that had not been done before: that is, take on the top cleric in America and name the Vatican as complicit in concealment of and the protection of a known predator, McCarrick."
Describing the former cardinal as "a predator at the top of the Catholic Church in America," Anderson slammed the "participation and complicity" of top Catholic officials, and named Popes Benedict XVI and Francis as complicit in McCarrick's concealment and protection.
"McCarrick has been protected for decades and given safe harbor in his predatory ways for decades. That protection ... runs all the way to Rome," he said.
In the complaint, Anderson and his team outline a host of evidence supporting Bellocchio's contention:
On Monday, Bellocchio said he was filing suit to "be able to move forward, and to help the Catholic Church move forward, because it is time that they own, claim and acknowledge their sins and clean the house from the top down."
"I want there to be real, effective change from the top down," he continued. "It is time for the bishops, the archbishops, the cardinals, and even the Holy Father to stop hiding behind their titles and their robes and acknowledge the truth that lies in front of them ... ."
Bellocchio called for the hierarchy "to fix it, because they are entrusted not only by their flock, but by God to do so." They have "a moral imperitive and a moral repsonsibility to do it, and to do it now," he said.
Bellocchio was one of dozens of New Jersey plaintiffs who filed suit against the Church on Sunday. Under the state's new Victim's Rights Bill, as of Dec. 1 sex abuse survivors may, for the next two years, file suit against their alleged attackers without restriction.
The law is expected to yield hundreds of new claims against New Jersey's five dioceses.