N.Y. Times talks to men who received settlements after alleged abuse by Cardinal McCarrick

  Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, is seen during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) 

NEW YORK (CNS) -- A front-page New York Times article published July 16 detailed the alleged abuse of two seminarians in the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, by then-Bishop Theodore E. McCarrick in the 1980s that resulted in settlements to each man.

For one of the seminarians, the alleged abuse continued after he had been ordained to the priesthood.

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The 3,100-word article, written by Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman, said the bishop would invite seminarians to spend time with him on overnight trips away from their seminary, and then, in giving bedroom assignments, direct one of them to his bedroom, where there was just one bed.

The abuse of these two men, according to an interview with one of former priests by the Times and the examination of the second man's file by the newspaper on the condition that he -- now also a former priest -- not be named, took place in the 1980s, while Bishop McCarrick served as first bishop of Metuchen and then as archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

Ordained a priest for the New York Archdiocese in 1958, then-Father McCarrick was ordained an auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001 and made a cardinal in that same year. He retired in 2006.

In a statement to The New York Times, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark said that he was "greatly disturbed by reports" that Cardinal McCarrick, his predecessor in Newark from 1986 to 2000, had "harassed seminarians and young clergy."

"I recognize without any ambiguity that all people have a right to live, work and study in safe environments," he wrote. "I intend to discuss this tragedy with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to articulate standards that will assure high standards of respect by bishops, priests and deacons for all adults."

Cardinal McCarrick, now 88, said in a June 20 statement that he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager in 1971 when he was serving as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in 1971 was found "credible and substantiated."

The cardinal said he was shocked and saddened by the report but said he had no recollection of that episode of abuse. He declined comment to the Times to be interviewed for the new story.

The Washington Archdiocese said in a statement on the matter that "the Holy See ... has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal" and referred the matter to the New York Archdiocese.

[Explore America's in-depth coverage of Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church.]

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, also in a June 20 statement, said the allegation was turned over to law enforcement officials, and was then thoroughly investigated by an independent forensic agency, as per the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" first approved by the U.S. bishops in 2002. "The Holy See was alerted as well, and encouraged us to continue the process," he added.

The Archdiocese of New York "renews its apology to all victims abused by priests," he added.

In the July 16 Times story, Robert Ciolek, 57, cited about a dozen trips out of town with then-Bishop McCarrick, including a beach house purchased by the diocese in Sea Girt, New Jersey, a fishing camp in Eldred, New York, a small apartment on an upper floor of a hospital the prelate used for overnight stays in New York City, and one trip to Puerto Rico.

Ciolek told the paper he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school -- information he had shared with his Bishop McCarrick. "I trusted him, I confided in him, I admired him," he added. "I couldn't imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind."

"I couldn't imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind."

The touching started with the bishop asking Ciolek to rub his shoulders, and then led to other, unwanted touching. But Ciolek said that touching always stayed above the waist and avoided the genitals. He added there was no kissing or holding of hands.

Ciolek left the priesthood in 1988 to marry. Around 1999, he was called in by Msgr. Michael J. Alliegro, who had been then-Bishop McCarrick's secretary in Metuchen. The monsignor, according to the Times, knew about the trips with seminarians and the bed-sharing. He asked Ciolek if he planned to sue the diocese. "And I literally laughed, and I said, no," Mr. Ciolek told the newspaper, adding Msgr. Alliegro responded with a sigh of relief.

By then, though, allegations the prelate, now an archbishop, had been circulating for five years, according to the Times. The paper said complaints were made to American bishops, the papal nuncio in Washington and, in 2008, to Pope Benedict XVI; Cardinal McCarrick had voted in the conclave that elected him three years prior.

The first complaint was written in 1994 by the second priest who received an abuse settlement.

In 1987, according to the file examined by the Times, 1987, the second former priest said the prelate -- by this time archbishop of Newark -- took him to an Italian restaurant in New York City, and then to the small apartment above the hospital.

The Times said the archbishop asked the seminarian to change into a striped sailor shirt and a pair of shorts he had on hand, and joined him in the bed. "He put his arms around me and wrapped his legs between mine," said the account written by the ex-priest, who was still a seminarian at that time.

"He also wrote that he once saw Archbishop McCarrick having sex with a young priest in a cabin at the Eldred fishing camp, and that the archbishop invited him to be 'next,'" the Times said. The seminarian also received letters from the archbishop signed "Uncle Ted" or "Uncle T."

In his 1994 letter to Cardinal McCarrick's successor in Metuchen, Bishop Edward T. Hughes, the second priest said he believed the sexual and emotional abuse he endured from Cardinal McCarrick, as well as several other priests, "had left him so traumatized that it triggered him to touch two 15-year-old boys inappropriately," the newspaper reported.

Ten years later, that priest had been forced to resign under the U.S. church's new zero-tolerance policy against child abuse, based on the admission in that letter.

He received a $100,000 settlement in 2006 from the Diocese of Metuchen. Ciolek received an $80,000 settlement in 2004 paid by the Archdiocese of Newark and the Dioceses of Metuchen and Trenton, according to the Times.

In June in response to the credible allegation of abuse of a minor in 1971 made against Cardinal McCarrick, the current bishop of Metuchen, Bishop James F. Checchio, said he had his diocese's records examined and found no similar report that the prelate had "ever abused any minor during his time here in Metuchen." 

"The abuse of a minor by a priest -- as is being reported in this case from New York -- is an abomination and sickens and saddens us all," he said.

He acknowledged that allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults decades ago had led to settlements in two of those allegations. "The abuse of anyone who is vulnerable is both shameful and horrific," Bishop Checchio said.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Robert Lewis
1 year 4 months ago

I really don't understand why there there seems to be a canonical "statute of limitations" on these kinds of crimes. I believe it would be edifying to see Cardinal McCarrick defrocked.

Ken Chang
1 year 4 months ago

Being a person of logic and proof, what kind of proof does an accuser furnish to prove what he says happened? How do one prove touching and lying down that happened years ago. One can't even proved someone touched you even yesterday. Isn't proof necessary for any accusation? This is not to say that it did not happen, only that it needs proof. The accuser loses nothing, the accused, loses everything.

Anthony Noble
1 year 4 months ago

Mr. Chang,
I also am a person of logic and proof. I was sexually abused by my mother for years beginning at the age of 12. The proof is my testimony. There are no photos or video of her abusing me. How do you think these things can be produced or obtained? Most sexual abuse do not leave marks and those that do cause physical injury heal and only can evidence injury if medically examined soon after the abuse. The shame of sexual abuse is overwhelming and embarrassing so unless someone has a blazing revenge motive, I cannot believe an abuse survivor would lie about being abused and when more than one person makes similar testimony of abuse, the accusations are credible.

Diana Weber
1 year 4 months ago

It is especially disturbing to hear that the Cardinal picked men who had been victimized as young people. That is absolutely classic for sexual predators, to pick the psychologically most vulnerable to victimize. And we wonder why our kids leave the church. Yes abuse happens in every institution, but our church's pattern of protecting predators is outstanding in its utter disregard for the safety of its most vulnerable members.

Henry George
1 year 4 months ago

Where was the Rector and where were the Spiritual Directors/Formation Directors
of these Seminarians when these abuses were taking place ?

Why didn't someone stand up to the abuser ?

Bruce Snowden
1 year 4 months ago

Pondering the sad spectacle of Cardinal McCarrick’s falls from Grace, to utter disgrace, I began wondering if he might be afflicted with ADD, not “Attention Deficit Disorder,” but “Affection Deficit Disorder,” having been born into and raised in American/Irish culture, thereby afflicted with Jansenism that looked on materiality as evil and sexuality as always sinful, frowning on hugs, embraces, cuddles, or kisses, even by parents on their children. The not so long ago American Church was rancid in the foul odor of Jansenism, fostered by its Bishops, all Irish, themselves victimized by Jansenism’s reek. The religious catechesis at School, or from the Altar, trained generations to be sexually stoic, influenced as well by Augustine’s opinion that, human sexuality was always a Mortal Sin, becoming a Venial Sin only if a child was its result.
This is the kind of Church Cardinal McCarrick grew up in and no doubt found similar attitudes in his seminary training, Teachers probably being Jansenism infected. I mention all of this because many of the Cardinal’s behaviors involved going to be where hugs, cuddles and embraces were sought by him. Of course things went further.

It’s true that Sin resides in the Will, not in any external act, true too, circumstances do morally alter cases, mitterating guilt. I am not attempting to wash away Cardinal McCarrick’s personal responsibility for his actions, some clearly seriously sinful and even criminal. I’m just suggesting the root cause of his moral and illegal wanderings and yes, wonderings too!

To kick sin back to Hell, one must sometimes be ruthless as Gerhard Lohfink says even Jesus was, in his very great book, “JESUS OF NAZARETH What He wanted, Who He was.” As an example Lohfink offers (Matt 5:29-30.) Plus more. If the Cardinal had done what Jesus recommended, things would have been so different, If the Cardinal had cuddled-up to Jesus in prayer, hugging and embracing saints, especially Blessed Mother, this scandal wouldn’t exist. Good advice for all including the individuals traumatized by the Cardinal and others. Hopefully when the time comes we will all dance with the Saints through the mercy of God!

Arthur Sullivan
1 year 4 months ago

I still think the church has got it wrong when it comes to many aspects of sexuality, including clerical celibacy. I have had the joy of working with married Anglican priests, male and female, and have been impressed with their spirituality and grace, more often than not. We're asking too much of our Roman priests to live the way they do, bound by church laws that sometimes seem remote from scripture and certainly from simple human expectations around family, love and God.

Anthony Noble
1 year 4 months ago

The Catholic Church hierarchy need to atone for their grave sins and publicly confess their culpability and guilt in covering up the sexual abuse of the clergy and their willing participation in perpetuating the sexual abuse and resulting life-long trauma, which often leads to spiritual death and results in the separation from God of the sufferers as well as other scandalized Catholics.

Msgr. Michael J. Alliegro sighed relief after a victim said he would not sue the Church for the abuse of McCarrick. Msgr. Michael J. Alliegro should have insisted the American Bishops and the Pope investigate and defrock him instead of ignoring the abuse which was apparently ongoing. It also should have been publicly condemned following the investigation.

Ironically, Church officials often said the cover up of clergy abuse was to protect the Church from scandal; however, when the Church is seen exposing and punishing clergy who abuse others, Catholics generally feel confidence that the Church is protecting the abused and following Jesus' teachings.

The continued lack of public contrition and the taking of responsibility for their role in the complicity of clergy abuse continues to scandalize Catholics and sow seeds of doubt of the spiritual integrity of the Church hierarchy. Msgr. Michael J. Alliegro, the Bishops of Metuchen, the Papal Nuncio at that time and ex- Pope Benedict need to publicly admit their role and sins in this matter and offer letters of resignation to the Pope as the Chilean Bishops did for their grave sins against the abused and let Pope Francis decide to accept them or not

Anthony Noble
1 year 4 months ago

As for the highest individual in the Church who was told about this abuse and did nothing, ex-Pope Benedict should volunteer to be defrock.

Anthony Noble
1 year 4 months ago

We should pray for all those involved.

aravind aru
1 year 3 months ago

thanks a lot for sharing amazing articles here.keep posting more updates like t5his with all needed stuff.Also check terrariumtvonwindows

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