Theodore McCarrick, America’s highest-ranking prelate ever charged with a sex crime, entered a plea of not guilty to three charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in the 1970s in a Massachusetts court on Friday. The Vatican had earlier investigated the cardinal over allegations of sexual impropriety, including hosting young seminarians at his New Jersey beach house. He was only defrocked when a man came forward with claims that he had been abused by the then-priest when he was a minor. McCarrick, who was once one of the most important fundraisers for the Roman Catholic Church, was regularly promoted by Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II before being ultimately defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019.
McCarrick, 91, looked frail as he entered the Dedham District Court, where he was met with loud protesters who support those who have been sexually abused and have long condemned the Vatican of wide-ranging coverups. An aide paid the $5,000 bail and McCarrick, who now lives in a religious home in Missouri, agreed to surrender his passport by Sept. 17. The prosecutor has accused the former cleric of using his status as a priest to gain access to the victim and using confession to keep the boy from telling his family about the assault. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 28.