Lawyer: McCarrick repeatedly touched youth during confession

In this Nov. 14, 2011, file photo, then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts after misconduct allegations against McCarrick and other priests. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican’s sexual abuse case against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has expanded significantly after a man testified that the retired American archbishop sexually abused him for years starting when he was 11, including during confession.

James Grein testified Thursday (Dec. 27) in New York before the judicial vicar for the New York City Archdiocese, who was asked by the Holy See to take his statement for the Vatican’s canonical case, said Grein’s attorney Patrick Noaker.

The testimony, which lasted about an hour, was difficult and stressful but Grein was proud to have done it, Noaker said.

“He wants his church back. He felt that in order to accomplish that end, he had to go in and testify here and tell them what happened, and give the church itself the chance to do the right thing,” Noaker said in a telephone interview Friday.

Grein initially came forward in July after the New York Archdiocese announced that a church investigation determined an allegation that McCarrick had groped another teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible.

Grein’s claims, first reported by The New York Times, are more serious. He has alleged that McCarrick first exposed himself to Grein when he was 11 and then sexually molested him for years thereafter.

Noaker said that in the testimony Thursday, Grein also gave “chilling” details about alleged repeated incidents of groping during confession — a serious canonical crime on top of the original offense of sexually abusing a minor.

Grein had previously not made public those claims, but Noaker confirmed his testimony to The Associated Press. Grein also allowed McCarrick’s defense lawyers to listen to his testimony by telephone.

Grein testified that McCarrick — a close family friend who baptized Grein — would take him upstairs to hear his confession before celebrating Mass for the family at home.

“He touched James’ genitals as part of the confessional. That became the course, it happened almost every time,” Noaker said. McCarrick would absolve Grein and “touch him on the forehead, shoulder, chest and genitals.”

Noaker said combining sexual abuse with a sacrament like confession haunts Grein to this day.

“People are vulnerable in the confessional. Very vulnerable,” he said. “If you manipulate that, and try to sexualize that, it’s extremely emotionally damaging.”

McCarrick denied the initial groping allegation of the altar boy and has said through his lawyer that he looks forward to his right to due process. It wasn’t clear when he would testify in the Vatican case.

The McCarrick scandal has sparked a credibility crisis for the U.S. and Vatican church hierarchies, since it was apparently an open secret for some that “Uncle Ted” slept with adult seminarians. Yet McCarrick still rose to the heights of church power, and even acted as the spokesman for U.S. bishops when they enacted a “zero tolerance” policy against sexually abusive priests in 2002.

Pope Francis initially ordered McCarrick removed from public ministry in June after he was accused of groping the teenage altar boy — the first known allegation against him involving a teen. A month later, after former seminarians and Grein came forward, Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal and ordered him to live a lifetime of penance and prayer while the canonical process ran its course.

Now 88, the former archbishop of Washington is living at a Kansas religious residence.

The Vatican is under pressure to finalize its case against McCarrick before Francis hosts church leaders at a February sex abuse prevention summit, since Francis himself has been implicated in the yearslong cover-up of McCarrick’s misconduct with adults.

If convicted by the Vatican, McCarrick could be defrocked by Francis or receive a lesser penalty.

Though victims have long complained about the way they have been treated during canonical proceedings, Noaker praised the judicial vicar, the Rev. Richard Welch, saying he was compassionate, respectful and patient during Grein’s testimony.

Noaker said Welch gave Grein time to compose himself when he testified about an incident in which McCarrick allegedly masturbated Grein in a car. When McCarrick dropped Grein back at home, he allegedly told Grein’s parents that the mess was caused by a spilled soda, so Grein’s mother went to clean up the car seat.

“That was a really psychologically damaging moment,” Noaker said, adding that Grein had to relive it during his testimony. “He closed his eyes. He was sitting in that car with McCarrick, and you could see it. It was moving and terrifying.”

Grein has told AP in the past that he struggled for decades with immense shame and guilt over the abuse. He said he struggled with alcoholism, which broke up his marriage, and attempted suicide multiple times.

The AP does not identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission. Grein has gone public with his full name.

In addition to the canonical case against McCarrick, Noaker filed a police report against McCarrick in July in Virginia.

About the author

Nicole Winfield


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  • From the Vatican’s point-of-view, McCarrick’s biggest crime is that he did not die before all of this became public.

  • Of course that’s not true, and you knew it was not when you typed it.

    McCarrick is the Poster Boy for why the Queer Clique needs to be rooted out of the Catholic Church.

  • NICOLE WHO?! Here’s what the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters in “Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias” has to say about this article’s writer, Nicole Winfield of The Associated Press:

    (1) “AP’s Nicole Winfield touted how Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano turned to ‘ultra-conservative media that have been highly critical of Francis’ mercy-over-morals papacy … [and how] some conservative American bishops swiftly came to Archbishop Viganò’s defense.'”

    (2) “Nicole Winfield unsurprisingly slant[ing] toward left-wing LGBT groups … played up how ‘gay rights groups hailed a “seismic shift” by the Catholic Church toward gays … after bishops said homosexuals had gifts to offer the church,’ and front-loaded three straight quotes from members of two such groups, along with a sympathizer.”

    (3) “Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press shamelessly construed Pope Francis’ denunciation of abortion and euthanasia as an ‘olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic Church’.”

    (4) “AP’s Vatican reporter Nicole Winfield … is going looking for traditionalist Catholics who are wailing and gnashing their teeth in defeat, for Francis is supposedly driving out the ‘poisonously homophobic culture’ that surrounded the ‘dusty, doctrinaire’ realm of Benedict.”

  • In reading and then researching Nicole Winfield’s “reporting” I think I can fairly say:

    – she is not an unbiased source on any topic

    – many of her articles are feeds from groups looking for free publicity

    – if she actually knows anything about Catholicism, she does an extremely good job of disguising it.

  • According to Wikipedia:

    The Media Research Center (MRC) is a politically conservative content analysis organization based in Reston, Virginia, founded in 1987 by L. Brent Bozell III. Its stated mission is to “expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.

    In other words, consider the source. Enough said.

  • So McCarricks homosexual and pedophile tendencies have left a wake of destruction in his time in the church; lives destroyed, souls potentially lost and desecration of the church and more importantly the Holy Eucharist.
    All the more reason to root these men and there enablers out of the church. If the church loses 3/4 of its priests, bishops and cardinals; so be it. The time has come to purge those unholy priests who are unfaithful to God and the bride of Christ.

  • And here’s what the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters in “Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias” has to say about Elagabalus:

    That’s right. Nothing. Don’t spatter I mean flatter yourself too much there, Ancient Romanian Empress.

  • I like her writings, I thought. Uncritically thought, apparently. Good, then, that there’s MRC out there to burst my bubbles from time to time.

    What opinion-formation phenomenon we now have, with MSM in Deep State’s pockets, post-Vietnam War.

  • 1) Every time I read about these things, I return to the theme that all people who sat under any kind of ministry from people like McCarrick were, in fact, defrauded. The religious education given by men who are abusers this morning and play-like-clerics this afternoon, is WORSE than worthless.

    2) The only thing worse than ministry from such kooks is counseling or confession with such kooks one on one.

    3) Don’t depend on your hierarchy. Put your radar on. If church has caused you to not have radar, stop going.

  • “While victims have long complained about the way they have been treated during canonical proceedings, Noaker praised the judicial vicar, the Rev. Richard Welch, saying he was compassionate, respectful and patient during Grein’s testimony.”

    Every once in a while, the RCC shows it just might be getting a clue. Let’s hope it develops into a trend, then a standard practice.

  • You’re certifiable. You use an outside source to attempt to discredit the author. He in turn uses an outside source to discredit your outside source and you behave like an ass about it.

  • In reading so many of your comments and constant retorts, I think I can fairly say:
    – you are not an unbiased source on any topic

  • And “you behave like [what, exactly?! – upon reading] about … Mipham Rinpoche … sexually abus[ing] female followers for years”! The “behav[ior]” of what, exactly, is it?! – when, commenting on that news, “David Allen … 5 months ago … [confessed] I can see why both women and men might be physically attracted to [Mipham Rinpoche], he is pretty damn cute. An almost irresistible smile.”

  • You have posted this more than once and I don’t understand your point.

    I stated that he is physically attractive. I think his being attractive was a point in his favor as he lured these folks in and was then able to engage in sexual relationships with them. Do you think that he would have been successful in luring sexual partners in among his flock if he was gawd awful ugly?

    Because I recognize that he is physically attractive, do you think that is something negative about me?

    BTW, why are you incapable of writing straightforward sentences? Why can’t you use normal punctuation, commas, periods, quotation marks, question marks, etc? Whats with all of the damned brackets, parenthesis, ellipses, etc. It makes your comments damned near impossible to decipher a lot of the time!

  • The Vatican is making a big issue of McCarrick to divert attention from other pedophile sexual crime investigations.

    In Trumpspeak – it’s the shiny new thing.

  • Exactly what “pedophile sexual crime investigations”?

    We’ve had a couple of politically-motivated “reports” which led to zero indictments.

  • 4) Don’t depend on FriendlyGoat’s platitudes and truisms, which aren’t the basis for a rational analysis.

  • You’re lying to yourself. You’re not a “gentleman”, so why bother with, say, Zaron Burnett III’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to the #MeToo Era: review[ing] the new-old rules of sexual engagement”, in Medium, July 16, 2018 – RIGHT?!

    “If she’s not comfortable alone with you, then she definitely doesn’t want you on or in her body. A woman’s comfort is the first step of seduction.” Not the “physically attractive”-ness of the “gentleman” at all!

    But you! All it takes for you to “engage in sexual relationships” is – how do you put it? – ah yes here you go – “because I recognize that he [Mipham Rinpoche] is physically attractive”!

  • Oh, I get it. According to you, the Vatican is focusing on the wrong abomination because homosexual predators are okay; while pedophiles are not.
    Both are sin – yes?
    Both are the acts of unholy priests – yes?
    In Trumpspeak – Stop trying to make one type of perversion seem better than the other because you aporove of it.

  • Interesting that both eblabulus and David Allen have nothing specific to say about McCarrick and/or his actions; but can snipe about petty matters with other posters.

  • Nope. Fact is, to my “Ancient Romanian Empress” meme, all “Elagabalus … a day ago [said was that] Rome isn’t the same thing as Romania, dumb @##!” – but not “[Emperor] isn’t the same thing as [Empress], dumb @##!”

  • The next time there’s an article about a man who sexually assaults a female (by far the overwhelming majority of sexual assault cases) I’ll be sure to throw in a gratuitous “heterosexual” to make sure everyone draws the inference that all heterosexual men are inherently predatory, just like you did here with regard to homosexual men – and of course to provide some sense of balance to your usual outrageousness.

  • oh; no thoughts on McCarrick’s actions then?
    I would think you being the good Christian that you are; you would want to get rid of unholy priests – no?
    I would think you would agree with my comment to rid the church of these unholy men.

  • What’s to say that hasn’t already been said? He’s a predator, he needs to be censured, which he was, and removed from active ministry, which he was, and then he needs to face the law, especially for his crime of assaulting a minor, which presumably he will. Happy now?

  • What could I say about the maggot that hasn’t already been said by others, perhaps more eloquently. I don’t disagree with anyone that he is a piece of shit.

    I actually never heard of the guy until recently. Here in these very pages.

    Jesus said that for folks who harm children, it might be better to tie millstones around their necks and toss them into the sea. That likely accounted as cement shoes in his time.

  • I don’t know, bob. how do you prevent a self-hating person with homosexual or pedophile proclivities from passing the test of discernment that he has a true calling from god? A close question, mark, is How do you prevent a person who knows all about predatory behavior on the part of those called by their god to the priesthood from simply ignoring crimes against children?

  • Interesting that I have said a great deal about McCarrick, none of it good. Also interesting the many, many people knew all about McCarrick for decades, and yet, not one of them, good Catohlics all, said squat about it to anyone.

  • Are you eblabulus or David Allen? I specifically didn’t mention you because only you actually spoke out against the evil.
    That being said, remember; those covering up like to do the same thing – while others are cowards.
    Both, are unholy.

  • It is demonstrably untrue that “not one of them, good Catohlics (sic) all, said squat about it to anyone.”

    What does appear to be the case is that no one who could do anything about it heard what was being reported.

    That’s what happens when you have a Fifth Column in any organization defeating it from the inside.

  • “I don’t know, bob. how do you prevent a self-hating person with homosexual or pedophile proclivities from passing the test of discernment that he has a true calling from god?”

    You have, as usual, misidentified your correspondent.

    Paranoid much?

    In any case we do not know whether one, or one hundred, homosexuals and/or pedophiles passed any test of discernment of anything.

    That’s the kind of problem you encounter when you have a Fifth Column within an organization trying to defeat it from inside.

    It is incontrovertible fact that the homosexuals in the episcopate, McCarrick and Weakland for two examples, were allowing the ordination of individuals about which they had received multiple negative reports.

    “A close question, mark, is How do you prevent a person who knows all about predatory behavior on the part of those called by their god to the priesthood from simply ignoring crimes against children?”

    You may want to rework that run-on sentence into one coherent question. As it stands it is nearly incomprehensible.

  • Several dioceses have been quite successful.

    The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, for example has had not a single case involving abuse by a priest ordained in that diocese.

    The first step it took was to eliminate psychologists from the process.

    The second step it took was to put the seminary in the hands of competent orthodox Catholic teachers.

    The third step it took was adopting a zero tolerance policy towards misbehavior.

    The fourth step it took was to excommunicate the local dissident rabble of all stripes.

    Of course the usual critics called Lincoln a backwater traditionalist bastion.

    They don’t criticize it openly anymore.

  • There are no homosexual predators at issue here. Just pedophiles.

    Trumpspeak would involve projecting your perversion on opponents based on fictions in efforts at deflection.

  • McCarrick is a homosexual predator that preyed on seminarians.
    Its disappointing that you approve of that type of amoral behavior.
    Hillaryspeak would involve making perversion acceptable by ostracizing those who are against the perversion by attacking them and their institutions.

  • I see nothing about him sexually abusing adults.

    Hardly approval of sexual predation. More like disapproval of your cheap scapegoating and deflection.

    You always seem to be defending repugnant behavior by making crap up about others to claim they are equally as bad. Never quite getting to the point where you address wrongdoing or even showing some degree of moral fiber.

    “Hillaryspeak would”

    Who? Someone not even remotely relevant to any current discussion?