Ouellet, a prominent figure in the Catholic Church, ‘firmly’ denies allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in Quebec.
Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has denied that he sexually assaulted a woman more than 10 years ago during his tenure as archbishop of Quebec City, a day after the Vatican. speak There is not enough evidence to open an investigation.
Ouellet has been named in a class-action lawsuit, first made public this week, that accuses clerics and staff of the Quebec Catholic Archdiocese of Sexual Assault since the 1940s.
“I vehemently deny that inappropriate gestures were made towards her person and I consider the interpretation and dissemination of these allegations as sexual assault to be defamatory,” Ouellet said in a statement today. Friday, his first public comment on the allegations.
“After learning of the complainant’s false accusations against me, I strongly deny that inappropriate gestures were made towards her.”
The lawsuit brought the Catholic Church into the spotlight in Canada a few weeks later Pope Francis visited the country to apologize for the church’s mistreatment of Native children in residential schools.
Ouellet accompanied the pope on that visit and is seen by experts as a potential successor.
Canadian media report that more than 100 victims have alleged in legal records that they were victims of sexual assault, mostly when they were minors and mostly during the 1950s and 1960s.
The lawsuit alleges Ouellet, 78, touched and made inappropriate comments to a former pastoral intern between 2008 and 2010.
The complaint says that Ouellet’s accuser, identified in court documents as “F,” told colleagues about one of the alleged incidents.
The Vatican has known about the charges against Ouellet since 2021 but this week said that a preliminary review found insufficient evidence to justify an investigation.
Ouellet has said he will fight the charges if the lawsuit goes ahead.
“If a civil investigation is opened, I intend to actively participate in that investigation so that the truth is determined and my innocence acknowledged,” he said in Friday’s statement. .