A new lawsuit accuses former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, of managing a “sex cabal” among seminarians, altar boys and priests at a New Jersey beach house in the 1980s.
The 30-page lawsuit was filed late Tuesday in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County by attorney Jeff Anderson on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff.
It alleges one count of sexual battery and six counts of negligence against Mr. McCarrick, the Archdiocese of Newark, the Diocese of Metuchen, and several former or retired priests. Mr. McCarrick served as the bishop of Metuchen from 1981 to 1986 and as the archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000.
At the center of the allegations is a beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey, that was purchased with diocesan funds by Mr. McCarrick when he was the bishop of Metuchen. The lawsuit says the beach house was used as a place to groom boys for sexual assault.
“At that house and detailed in the complaint … was an assembly of a large number of seminarians and other priests all answering in service to the boss, to the bishop, to McCarrick,” Mr. Anderson said Wednesday in a Zoom press conference from his offices in St. Paul, Minnesota. “And in the night, with the assistance of others, McCarrick would creep into this kid’s bed and engage in criminal sexual assault … whispering, ‘It’s OK.’”
The lawsuit details allegations of molestation against the plaintiff beginning in 1978, and later against an 11-year-old altar boy, and continuing from 1982 to 1983 at the beach house. The Diocese of Metuchen later sold the beach house, Mr. Anderson said.
Tuesday’s lawsuit resulted from passage of a bill in New Jersey extending the statutes of limitation on child sexual abuse claims.
Mr. McCarrick, who served as the archbishop of Washington from 2000 until his retirement in 2006, was defrocked in 2019, and had been living in a friary in Kansas until earlier this year.
Four of the other five clerics named in the lawsuit — including four priests and a Christian Brother who had served as principal of Essex Catholic Boys High School — had been on official lists of clerics with credible accusations against them.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. McCarrick assigned boys on weekend trips to bedrooms shared by clerics in the Sea Girt beach house on the Jersey Shore beginning in 1982. Former priests Michael Walters, John Laferrera and Gerald Ruane and Brother Andrew Thomas Hewitt participated in sexually abusing the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff alleges that he was first sexually abused by former priest Anthony Nardino in 1978. Mr. Nardino left the priesthood in the mid-1980s and his whereabouts are unknown, Mr. Anderson said Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Metuchen said officials have yet to receive the complaint but stand with “survivors of abuse.”
“Our diocese renews our commitment to prevent these types of abuse from ever happening again,” said Anthony P. Kearns III, spokesman and chancellor for the Diocese of Metuchen.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark said in an email to The Washington Times it would be “inappropriate to discuss or comment on matters in litigation.”
“The Archdiocese of Newark remains fully committed to transparency and to our long-standing programs to protect the faithful and will continue to work with victims, their legal representatives and law enforcement authorities in an ongoing effort to resolve allegations and bring closure to victims,” the Archdiocese of Newark spokesperson said in the email.
Mr. Anderson did not reveal the address of the beach house in Sea Girt at Wednesday’s press conference and stated that the diocese owned separate beach houses during the time period in question.
The attorney added that the plaintiff had stayed quiet about allegations for decades for the same reason many survivors of sexual abuse do not disclose details of abuse — out of shame and fears of retribution from “the most powerful cleric in America.”