Pretrial hearing is held in McCarrick case; second hearing will be Dec. 21

DEDHAM, Mass. (CNS) -- The Dedham District Court held a pretrial hearing Oct. 28 in the criminal sex abuse case of former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who is facing three counts of sexually assaulting a teenager in the 1970s.

McCarrick pleaded not guilty to the charges Sept. 3 at the court, but his presence at the hearing was waived. A second pretrial hearing was scheduled for Dec. 21.

In September, he was not taken into custody but was ordered to post $5,000 bail and have no contact with the alleged victim or children. The former high-ranking, globe-trotting church official also was ordered not to leave the country and surrendered his passport.

A day before his arraignment, a former employee and a former priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, which McCarrick headed as an archbishop from 1986 to 2000, filed lawsuits alleging unwanted sexual contact by McCarrick for incidents in 1991.

The Massachusetts case is the first time, however, that McCarrick has faced criminal charges for assault of a minor, which is alleged to first have taken place at a wedding reception in 1974 and continued over the years in different states.

Massachusetts allows for a pause of the statute of limitations in criminal cases "when (the) defendant is not usually and publicly (a) resident," according to the website Findlaw.com.

Others have publicly accused McCarrick of abusing them as children, too, but charges weren't pursued in many cases as the statute of limitations in those localities had run out. However, many of them said they or their families and sometimes priests, over the years, reported the suspected abuse to high-ranking church officials who did nothing.

In 2018, however, the Archdiocese of New York found an allegation that then-Msgr. McCarrick had abused a 16-year-old altar server in New York in 1971 "credible and substantiated" and turned the case over to the Vatican.

McCarrick, now 91,was dismissed by the Vatican from the clerical state in 2019 following an investigation of accusations that he had abused multiple children early on in his career of more than 60 years as a cleric, and that he also had abused seminarians as a bishop in New Jersey.

McCarrick has in the past denied allegations made against him. In a 2019 interview with Slate magazine, he said: "I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of," speaking of those who have come forward.