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Ex-Cardinal McCarrick denies abuse of NJ man as criminal case hangs in balance

Former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed from office after years of sexual abuse allegations, said in an exclusive interview that he has not attacked a New Jersey man he is accused of abusing, although he admitted his to know the prosecutor.

Once one of the most high-profile Catholic leaders in America, McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Newark and Bishop of Metuchen, has retired in the four years since he was expelled from the clergy by Pope Francis. As of 2021, he was living at a Missouri rehabilitation center for troubled priests, court documents say.

McCarrick, also the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., was a prominent voice and miraculous fundraiser for the Vatican for decades. But he fell out of favor amid multiple sexual assault allegations, including one from Bergen County resident James Grein, which has led to criminal charges in Massachusetts.

Grein, who now lives in Virginia, has filed a number of lawsuits against McCarrick. But his role in the criminal case has not been reported so far. Prosecutors in Massachusetts say McCarrick assaulted Grein, then a teenager, at a 1974 wedding at Wellesley College.

On Monday, the former cardinal’s lawyers filed a motion arguing that McCarrick, now 92, is not competent to stand trial because of what they called irreversible dementia.

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A short interview

A day after the filing, a reporter from NorthJersey.com and the USA Today Network New Jersey reached McCarrick on his private phone line. The conversation was brief and lasted less than 10 minutes. The former prelate sounded calm and composed throughout.

“Do you remember James Grein?” asked the reporter. “Yes. I remember him,” McCarrick replied.

He denied the allegations, which related to 20 years of abuse that allegedly started when Grein was 11 years old.

“It’s not true,” McCarrick said. “The things he said about me are not true.”

“If you want more information about it, you can talk to my lawyers,” he added.

According to Grein, who grew up in Tenafly and now lives in Virginia, McCarrick was a close family friend who baptized him, but then abused him for years, starting when he was 11 years old. In a separate interview this week, Grein, now 64, said McCarrick would attend the family gatherings and holidays and was so close he was nicknamed “Uncle Ted.”

“He sexually and mentally abused me,” says Grein, who claims the abuse took place in his home, in hotels across the country and during confession.

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In this 2019 file photo, James Grein, 61, speaks at his home in Sterling, Virginia. Grein says Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s exalted place in the family for three generations has pressured him to visit McCarrick on weekends away from boarding school and visits when he would be harassed. “If I didn’t go to Theodore, my siblings or my dad would always ask me, ‘Why didn’t you go to him?'”

The conversation with McCarrick on Tuesday came after several unanswered calls on his phone. Finally he called back.

After asking about McCarrick’s welfare, this reporter identified herself as a journalist and made it clear that she was asking about his accuser.

McCarrick said he was home in Missouri. He said he “felt good considering I’m 92 years old. It’s not like I’m 40 or 50 anymore.”

“I don’t want to talk about these things”

McCarrick answered questions about Grein politely, but made it clear that he did not want to discuss the matter.

“I don’t want to talk about these things,” he said. “You can talk to my lawyer.”

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“I hope you won’t do me a snow job,” he added, before hanging up.

McCarrick is charged with three counts of sexual assault and assault against a person over the age of 14. Grein’s attorney, Mitch Garabedian, said he faces up to five years in prison for each charge. His client also filed lawsuits against McCarrick in New York and New Jersey.

McCarrick pleaded not guilty to the 2021 criminal charges. In Monday’s filing, his attorneys cited a report by a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, which said McCarrick had “a severe cognitive impairment” and ” everyday functional disabilities”. that classifies as dementia, most likely due to Alzheimer’s disease.

More: A timeline of the rise and fall of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

Research: Here’s what we found out this year about Cardinal McCarrick, beach houses and sexual assault

Massachusetts prosecutors said they will bring in their own experts in April to assess whether McCarrick is fit to stand trial.

Garabedian said McCarrick’s motion to dismiss the case also admits the former cardinal may still be “intelligent and eloquent.” The dementia claim was “conveniently deceptive,” he said.

He said it could take months for the court to rule on McCarrick’s competence.

McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn, declined to comment.

Deena Yellin covers religion for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to her work on how the spiritual intersects our daily lives, subscribe today or activate your digital account.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @deenayellin

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick denies sexual abuse allegations in interview

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