PARIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - Accused of sexually assaulting multiple men, a retired Vatican diplomat will face criminal charges this fall in a French court.
Retired apostolic nuncio to France, Abp. Luigi Ventura will appear before the Paris criminal court on Nov. 10 for allegedly groping a man's posterior on more than one occasion. An investigation by Parisian prosecutors into the complaint led to similar complaints from three other men. Each alleged incident of homosexual predation occurred while Ventura was still in office.
The Vatican waived Ventura's diplomatic immunity last summer, paving the way for criminal prosecution in France.
The first Frenchman to come forward was a Paris City Hall employee who says the assault occurred during a new year's reception at which the mayor of Paris was addressing diplomats and religious leaders.
The New York Times reported on the investigation in 2019, explaining the city "employee sought to distance himself from the archbishop, going to another room, but the archbishop followed him and touched his buttocks a third time, the official said." Four other City Hall employees witnessed the event.
Another complaint of homosexual predation against Ventura was filed in Ottawa, Canada for an incident that allegedly took place in July 2008 at the shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Ventura was apostolic nuncio of Canada at the time.
"The first time, he grabbed me," Christian Vachon, the victim, told Canadian outlet Présence information religieuse in February 2016. Vachon was working as a server during an event at the shrine.
"At the time, I thought it might have been inadvertent," he continued. "I went there a second time. I felt his hands brushing against my buttocks again."
Vachon was angry, thinking the nuncio's actions were completely contrary to the dignity of his office.
"I didn't see it as an assault. I was thinking, he's trying his hand, he wants to flirt," he said.
Ventura was ordained a priest in 1969 for the diocese of Brescia in Italy. A career diplomat for the Holy See since 1978, he was appointed apostolic nuncio in 1995 to three countries in West Africa: Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger. He then became apostolic nuncio to Chile in 1999, apostolic nuncio to Canada in 2001 and apostolic nuncio to France in 2009.
As apostolic nuncio of Chile (1999–2001), Ventura is reported to have worked closely with Fernando Karadima, who was working as a priest in the country before Pope Francis defrocked him in 2011. Karadima was a notorious sexual predator who cost the Santiago archdiocese nearly half a million dollars in court-ordered fines.
At the time of the court ruling, one of Karadima's victims, Jose Andres Murillo, said, "The truth is that there is a profound relief, along with the fatigue of all these years ... more than 20 years of asking for justice."
Ventura retired at the age of 75 in December 2019, about six months after losing diplomatic immunity.