Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been criminally charged with fourth-degree sexual assault in Wisconsin for an incident that allegedly occurred in April 1977.

McCarrick, 92, was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adults. He is currently being criminally charged in Massachusetts for sexually abusing a minor, an accusation he denies.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice in an April 16 press release said that the complaint alleges that McCarrick serially sexually abused the victim over an unspecified period of time.

The press release: 

Attorney General Josh Kaul and Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld today announced that defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, age 92, has been charged with one count of Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault for an incident that occurred in April of 1977.

The charge in this case stems from a report made to the Attorney General’s Clergy and Faith Leader Abuse initiative. The complaint alleges that McCarrick engaged in repeated sexual abuse of the victim over time, including the charged incident that involved the alleged fondling of the victim’s genitals while staying as a guest at a Geneva Lake residence.

“Thank you to the brave survivors who have made reports through the clergy and faith leader abuse initiative,” said Attorney General Kaul. “I encourage other survivors who have not yet reported to consider speaking to the victim services specialist at DOJ who is dedicated to this initiative and to make a report.”

Survivors of clergy or faith leader abuse, their friends and family, or anyone who has information about how a religious organization has responded to reported abuse are encouraged to report that information to DOJ either online at or by calling 1-877-222-2620.

This investigation was the result of an investigation by Walworth County Sheriff’s Department and Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). The case is prosecuted by Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld. The criminal complaint is available on request.

As in any criminal proceeding, Mr. McCarrick is presumed innocent until proven guilty.