Lawsuit Accuses Ex-Cardinal McCarrick Of Abusing Boy In 1990s

Peter Haskell
December 02, 2019 - 2:46 pm
John Bellocchio

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

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NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — A lawsuit alleges defrocked former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused a teenage boy in the 1990s when he was leader of the archdiocese of Newark.

John Bellocchio claims McCarrick, who was removed from public ministry last June and defrocked by the Vatican in February, sexually assaulted him when he was a 14-year-old altar boy at St. Francis of Assisi in Hackensack. 

The 37-year-old Bellocchio said he has suffered from anxiety and PTSD for more than 20 years, but has chosen to come forward publicly rather than remain anonymous.

"When it comes to, frankly, the truth, there is nothing to hide," Bellochio said, adding that he needs to do this "to be able to move forward and to be able to help the Catholic Church move forward."

Attorney Jeff Anderson said the church turned a blind eye to multiple claims of abuse against McCarrick.

"Because of McCarrick's prominence they gave him such safe harbor," Anderson said. "This case and this complaint sets forth a pattern and a practice of willful indifference."

In a statement, the Newark Archdiocese indicates it will continue to cooperate with victims and law enforcement. 

The lawsuit was one of at least two announced Monday, the day after a New Jersey law went into effect giving victims more time to sue abusers.

The law allows child victims to sue until they turn 55, or within seven years of their first realization the abuse caused them harm. The previous limit was two years.

Victims previously barred by the statute of limitations have a two-year window to file claims.

In addition to the McCarrick lawsuit, two sisters from Pennsylvania are suing clergy officials in Newark and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They allege officials knew a priest had sexually abused children before he moved to Harrisburg and abused them and their sisters for years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.