A cardinal ousted from the Roman Catholic Church paid dozens of clerics, some of whom were involved in evaluating claims of his sexual misconduct, more than $600,000 over nearly two decades, according to The Washington Post.
Theodore McCarrick, who was archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 2001 to 2006, sent money donated to the church by wealthy donors to more than 100 Catholic officials, including two popes, according to financial records obtained by the Post.
The Vatican removed McCarrick from public ministry in June 2018 amid allegations of sexual abuse decades earlier involving a teenage altar boy. It was revealed at that time that he had been accused over the years of sexual misconduct by three others.
Among the more than 100 recipients were Pope John Paul II, who received $90,000, and Pope Benedict XVI, who received $291,000, the Post reported.
A spokesman for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who received $6,500 from McCarrick, told the Post the money "never had any effect on the Cardinal's decision-making as an official of the Holy See."
Clerics who received checks characterized the money from McCarrick as Christmas gifts and said it was spent on charity or other services, the Post reported.
McCarrick's attorney declined to comment on the latest report when CNBC emailed.
But McCarrick, now 89, said last year in a statement that he had "absolutely no recollection" of the abuse involving the teenager.
"While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people," he said.
McCarrick in September reiterated his claim, saying he does "not believe that I did the things that they accused me of," and also saying that he believes his accusers and others with similar stories "were encouraged" to lie. "There were many who were in that situation who never had any problems like that," he said.
Church officials said the Vatican will release an official report in 2020.
Earlier this year, the Washington Post published a report that showed that Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, the leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia, gave about $350,000 to clergymen before he was ousted for sexual misconduct.
Among the recipients of the cash gifts were young priests who had accused him of allegations of sexual misconduct and at least a dozen cardinals. Bransfield took the money out of a personal account over a period of a decade.