Pope Francis’s former envoy to France went on trial in Paris on Tuesday for sexual attack following accusations he groped 5 guys throughout public events.
Luigi Ventura, a 75-year-old Italian archbishop, was not in court for the proceedings.
Ventura’s legal representative Solange Doumic stated his medical professional had advised him against taking a trip from Italy to France due to the health dangers positioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
The accusations versus Ventura triggered deep embarrassment for the Vatican when they surfaced in February 2019, coming amid a variety of discoveries about clerical sex abuse that have rocked the Catholic Church.
He was removed of his diplomatic resistance in July 2019 so that he might be prosecuted– a first for a Vatican envoy.
Mathieu de la Souchere says he was searched thrice AFP/ STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
Paris municipal government initially reported the cleric to cops after an authorities from its global relations team implicated Ventura of touching his buttocks three times during a New Year’s ceremony in January 2019.
Mathieu de la Souchere informed the court Ventura got out of his vehicle and while walking next to him, “touched” his butts informing him he was “very handsome.” Then in the lift he “fondled” him once again.
” Very ill at ease,” he left the room where Ventura was awaiting the Paris mayor and told coworkers what had happened.
But Ventura followed him and made the exact same gesture again, in front of witnesses, he said.
( FILES) In this file photo taken on November 07, 2010 Italian bishop Luigi Ventura, the Apostolic Nuncio to France, attends a mass on November 7, 2010 in Lourdes, southern France, as part of the yearly Plenary session of French bishops. The previous Vatican ambassador to France, Bishop Luigi Ventura, will be evaluated in Paris, presumed of sexual attack on five men in 2018 and 2019 in the exercise of his diplomatic functions, which he denies. AFP/ REMY GABALDA
The former France envoy has rejected this, saying he has a “Latin personality” and “bad vision,” and explaining a “friendly greeting” devoid of “any sexual undertone.”
” My daily job was to work with ambassadors. Never ever has an ambassador, no matter how Latin, acted like this,” retorted de la Souchere.
4 other men later came forward with comparable accusations against Ventura relating to public events in France in between January 2018 and February 2019.
They consist of a senior foreign ministry authorities and a seminarian who accused the bishop of searching him throughout a mass.
Ventura, who had actually been stationed in Paris since 2009, resigned in December after reaching the 75-year age limit for the task.
He had actually previously functioned as papal envoy to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chile and Canada.
Sexual attack carries an optimum five-year prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros in France.
Doumic declared that it was Ventura himself who had asked to have his diplomatic immunity waived “in order to be able to describe himself before the courts”.
But his accusers, who signed up with the criminal case as civil plaintiffs, said they battled hard to have his immunity quashed.
The Catholic Church has actually been rocked by a wave of allegations detailing decades of sexual assault by clerics around the world, mainly involving minors.
On Tuesday, the Vatican denied it had covered up years of abuse by ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
A 450-page report on who understood what– and whether three successive popes overlooked McCarrick’s abuse of at least one teenage kid and a number of male seminarians– said Polish pope John Paul II had actually overlooked cautions about the cleric’s behaviour.