By Ted Sherman
He is known only as “Doe 14.”
Raised in a devout Catholic family, he attended St. Francis Xavier in Newark and Essex Catholic in East Orange in the Archdiocese of Newark, participating in church and youth activities.
And by the time he was a teenager, his lawyers say he was being groomed for a role in what they called a “sex ring” involving then-Bishop Theodore McCarrick, the 90-year-old now defrocked and disgraced former cardinal who was cast out of the ministry last year over decades-old sexual abuse allegations.
In a lawsuit, they charged other priests served as “procurers” to bring victims to McCarrick at his beach house on the Jersey Shore, where he “assigned sleeping arrangements, choosing his victims from the boys, seminarians and clerics present at the beach house,” and that they were paired with adult clerics.
The lawsuit does not say if McCarrick asked the other priests to bring boys to the beach house.
In a press conference on Wednesday, attorneys for the now 53-year-old victim serving as the plaintiff in the lawsuit detailed a sordid, predatory scheme of sexual abuse involving McCarrick and other members of the clergy involving at least seven children, including Doe 14, that they said played out over dozens of years.
Jeff Anderson, who represents Doe 14, said priests and others under the control of McCarrick engaged in “open and obvious criminal sexual conduct” that was kept cloaked by the church.
“That continued for 50 years until McCarrick, having been publicly exposed, was ultimately defrocked,” declared Anderson.
In their court papers filed Tuesday night in New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County, the unnamed victim filed suit against the Diocese of Metuchen, where McCarrick served as bishop, the Archdiocese of Newark, where he was the archbishop, and the schools, high schools and parish schools Doe 14 had attended while growing up in New Jersey.
According to the lawsuit, much of what allegedly transpired occurred at a Sea Girt beach house that has been the focus of other complaints involving charges of abuse by McCarrick of seminarian students, who he allegedly would bring down to the Jersey Shore.
“McCarrick would creep into this kid’s bed and engage in criminal sexual behavior and whisper, ‘It’s okay,’” said Anderson.
Asked about the charges, attorney Barry Coburn, who represents McCarrick, said only, “no comment at this time.”
The Newark Archdiocese also declined comment.
“It would be inappropriate to discuss or comment on matters in litigation,” said spokeswoman Maria Margiotta. “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 Doe 14 complaint charged that boys were also selected and abused not only by McCarrick, but by other priests and clergy at the beach house, who were named in the court papers.
Gerald Ruane, Michael Walters and John Laferrera, allegedly abused Doe 14, the lawsuit claimed. All three were listed last year by the Newark Archdiocese as having credible accusations of sex abuse made against them. Ruane was listed as deceased, and the others had previously removed from ministry.
Brother Andrew Thomas Hewitt, the former Essex Catholic principal, was also accused of abusing the boy from 1981 to 1983, and named as well in a list of those accused of sexual abuse. He is now dead as well.
Also accused of “unpermitted sexual contact” when the plaintiff was 11 years old was a former priest named Anthony Nardino. He had not been publicly accused before, but was said to have left the ministry as well. Church officials did not respond to questions about him.
McCarrick, once the most recognized Catholic leader in New Jersey and a major voice on national issues for the church, has already been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse in earlier court filings.
Last year, James Grein stepped forward with a lawsuit under a new law that gives people more time to sue their alleged abusers and the institutions that protected them. He charged McCarrick sexually abused him for 20 years, even after he told Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican about the abuse.
In a separate lawsuit, John Bellocchio, a former Catholic schoolteacher and principal, alleged in a lawsuit that McCarrick sexually assaulted him when he was the archbishop of Newark.
Even before any of those allegations came to light, church officials in New Jersey later revealed that McCarrick had previously been accused of sexual misconduct with three adults during his time in the state. Two of those cases resulted in secret legal settlements, according to the Archdiocese of Newark.
The settlements included $80,000 paid to a former priest turned lawyer from New Jersey who said McCarrick, known as “Uncle Ted,” would invite young seminarians and priests to the house in Sea Girt, where they would be expected to share a bed with McCarrick.
All that time, McCarrick continued his ascendancy in the church hierarchy, picked by Pope John Paul II as Washington’s archbishop in late 2000. A year later, he was made a cardinal.
The cardinal’s downfall began after a former altar server went to the Archdiocese of New York after hearing that a panel was considering settlements for alleged victims, to report how he had been abused as a teenager while being measured by McCarrick for a special cassock for Christmas Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
He told them that McCarrick, then a monsignor, unzipped the teenager’s pants while measuring him for the garment and was later cornered in a bathroom.
The allegation led to McCarrick being removed from public ministry and later forced to resign from the College of Cardinals. A subsequent Vatican investigation ended with his being laicized, or dismissed from the clerical state — considered one the harshest forms of punishment that can be issued by the church.
McCarrick has never admitted to any wrongdoing.
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