Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Misconduct by Prominent Quebec Cardinal and Priest

In that lawsuit, a woman identified as “F” alleges that Cardinal Marc Ouellet touched her against her will and forced her to perform sexual acts with another priest, Father Leopold Manirabarusha.

“F” said he met Ouellet over dinner in 2008 while he was working as an intern for the Diocese of Quebec, according to the lawsuit. She stated in the legal filing that later that night “she feels two hands land on her shoulders and begin to massage her shoulders vigorously. F looks up and sees that it is Cardinal Marc Ouellet who is behind her and massaging her shoulders.” shoulders”. Ouellet smiles at her and pats her back before leaving.”

In another incident in 2008, “F'” contacted Ouellet again, according to the lawsuit. Another priest asked him if he knew “F,” according to the file, “to which he replies out loud that they both know each other very well. Cardinal Marc Ouellet then casually kisses ‘F,’ even though they had only seen each other.” once. or twice before, and holds her firmly against him as he caresses her back with his hands,” according to the suit.

“F” claimed that one of the last times he was in contact with Ouellet was in February 2010. According to the lawsuit, Ouellet told him he could kiss her again because “there’s nothing wrong with spoiling yourself a little.”

“F” said he didn’t say anything because he was worried his internship and career future would depend on Ouellet, according to the lawsuit.

After attending sexual assault training, “F” began having flashbacks of what he said he experienced with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, according to the lawsuit. She realized that Ouellet’s interactions with her constituted touching of a sexual nature without consent and thus sexual assault, according to the lawsuit, and decided to tell her new partner and some of her friends.

One of these friends advised her to speak to the Quebec Catholic Church’s Advisory Committee for the Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Persons about these sexual assaults, according to the lawsuit.

Ouellet denied “having made inappropriate gestures towards his person” in a statement released Friday by the Vatican press office.

“Having learned of the false accusations made against me by the complainant (F.), I strongly deny having made inappropriate gestures on her person and I consider the interpretation and dissemination of these accusations as sexual assaults to be defamatory,” Ouellet’s statement said. “If a civil investigation is opened, I intend to actively participate in it so that the truth is established and my innocence is recognized.”

A statement issued by Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said that a preliminary investigation by Fr. Jacques Servais, SI, at the request of the Pope, concluded “that there are no elements to start a trial against Cardinal Ouellet for sexual assault.”

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“After further pertinent consultations, Pope Francis declares that there are not sufficient elements to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet against Person F,” Bruni said in the statement.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec has acknowledged the allegations made in the lawsuit against Cardinal Ouellet but said it has no comment.

Additionally, in the lawsuit, “F” described sexual assaults by another priest from the Quebec diocese, Father Leopold Manirabarusha.

“F” alleged that she was forced to perform sexual acts for Manirabarusha while employed by the diocese, according to the filing. She alleged in her lawsuit that one day Manirabarusha took her to her library and made it clear that he expected her to perform oral sex on him. “F” complied with her demands, seeing no other way out.

According to the lawsuit, on about 15 different occasions, Manirabarusha sexually assaulted her in various places, including church property and a hotel.

The Archdiocese of Quebec confirmed that Manirabarusha is still a Catholic priest, saying, “but he has been out of service for a suspension since the beginning of April. So, until the whole matter is resolved, he cannot have any pastoral intervention with the people.” .

Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been one of the Vatican’s most prominent cardinals for more than a decade. His name was raised during the 2013 Conclave as a possible Pope, CNN reported at the time.

He has headed the powerful Vatican bishops’ office since 2010. The office is responsible for researching and monitoring Catholic bishops around the world and works closely with Pope Francis. Cardinal Ouellet normally meets weekly with the pope to keep him informed of developments in his office, according to published bulletins of the pope’s meetings.

In 2019, upon turning 75, Ouellet submitted his resignation to Pope Francis as required by Vatican law, but Francis did not accept it, as CNN has confirmed that Ouellet remains in his position.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in an email to CNN, said it cannot confirm whether there is a criminal investigation and that investigations are generally confirmed when criminal charges are recommended against someone.

CNN has contacted Quebec City’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions about possible criminal investigations and was told via email that they have no public information on this case at this time.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which has provided support to victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years, released a statement saying: “We applaud the courage of all the victims involved in this case for coming forward.” and we hope they can receive the justice and healing they deserve. We especially recognize that given the prominence of the man she has accused, Cardinal Ouellet’s alleged victim will no doubt receive intense public scrutiny, and we recognize that for her to have stepped forward It has required considerable courage.”

CNN’s Nicola Ruotolo contributed to this report.

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