McCarrick, the ex-archbishop of Washington, D.C., was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after an internal Vatican investigation determined he sexually molested adults as well as children. The McCarrick scandal created a crisis of credibility for the church, primarily because there was evidence Vatican and U.S. church leaders knew he slept with seminarians but turned a blind eye as McCarrick rose to the top of the U.S. church as an adept fundraiser who advised three popes.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Dr. Kerry Nelligan, a psychologist hired by the prosecution, said she found significant deficits in McCarrick’s memory during two interviews in June, and he was often unable to recall what they had discussed from one hour to the next. As with any form of dementia, she said there are no medications that could improve the symptoms.
“It’s not just that he currently has these deficits,” Nelligan said. “There is no way they are going to get better.” Without being able to remember discussions, he could not participate with his lawyers in his defense, she said.
McCarrick appeared via a video link during the hearing. He was slightly slumped in his chair wearing a light green shirt and what appeared to be a grey sweater vest or sweater around his shoulders. He did not speak during the hearing.
The once-powerful American prelate faced charges that he abused the teenage boy at a wedding reception at Wellesley College in 1974.
McCarrick has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty in September 2021. He was also charged in April with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in Wisconsin more than 45 years ago.
In February, McCarrick’s attorneys asked the court to dismiss the case, saying a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine had examined him and concluded that he has dementia, likely Alzheimer’s disease.
At that time, lawyers said McCarrick had a “limited understanding” of the criminal proceedings against him.