Cardinal’s Sex Abuse Accuser Reveals Identity

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 17, 2023   

Sexual assault class action lawsuit names 3 more Canadian bishops

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QUÉBEC CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A lay pastoral assistant who accused Cdl. Marc Ouellet of sexual assault has shed her anonymity in a bid to encourage others to report their testimonies of clerical sex abuse.

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Bp. Jean-Pierre Blais

On Friday, the pastoral intern told reporters, "Today, I am no longer F," referring to the pseudonym used to identify her in court documents. "I am Paméla Groleau."

In a statement, Groleau said she had been "fighting against an institution for over two years that, with threats and intimidation, tries to silence me." 

"I have kept my anonymity until today to protect my loved ones, my family, my job and also, to preserve my health, which has been put to the test by all the procedures," she explained.

In August, Groleau filed a class action lawsuit against Ouellet, accusing the prelate of inappropriately touching her, kissing her and sliding his hand down her back to touch her buttocks at an ordination party.

The former intern, who claims she was abused by Ouellet when serving as a 23-year-old intern with the archdiocesan chancery from 2008–2010, complained to Pope Francis in January 2021 and launched a lawsuit only after the pontiff failed to act. 

I hope that the Church will be able to recognize its own poverty rather than hide it.

"After trying the internal denunciation processes of the Diocese of Quebec, and the Vatican, I turned, at the end of my resources, to civil justice," Groleau observed. "I do this to fight for myself but also for all the victims of the clergy who for decades have been seeking to be heard and recognized."

The practicing Catholic, who wears a cross on her necklace, said her fight was "also the fight of all Christians and Christians who suffer pain in their Church and who wish to see it purged of abuses of all kinds so that it regains its relevance and credibility for the world." 


 

After leaving the diocesan chancery, Groleau served as a pastoral animator in the parishes of St. Louis de France and St. Yves until July 31, 2014.

For a few years, Groleau served as a pastoral worker for the Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish in Québec City. In June 2019, after taking a new chaplaincy role with the Canadian Armed Forces, Fr. Léopold Manirabarusha and parishioners paid tribute to her for her services after Holy Mass and wished her well.

During the winter season, Groleau continues to serve as a pastoral worker. During the rest of the year, she cultivates her organic farm in the town of Deschambault-Grondines in the province of Québec with her husband, who is trained in forestry.   

I have kept my anonymity until today to protect my loved ones, my family, my job and also, to preserve my health.

In December, Ouellet announced that he is filing a $100,000 defamation lawsuit in Québec against the intern, insisting that he has "never been guilty of these reprehensible behaviors, much less of those alleged against other members of the clergy cited in the class action."

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Groleau's farewell service at Transfiguration Parish

"Having preliminarily made sure to protect the plaintiff's anonymity by obtaining an order to that effect, today I am taking legal action for defamation before the courts of Québec in order to prove the falsity of the allegations made against me and to restore my reputation and honor," the cardinal said in a recent statement.

According to an earlier statement in August, Ouellet maintained, "Having learned of the false accusations made against me by the complainant (F.), I firmly deny making inappropriate gestures on her person and I consider the interpretation and sharing of these accusations of sexual assault as defamatory."

In August, the Holy See Press Office issued a statement noting that "there are no elements to initiate a trial against Cdl. Ouellet for sexual assault." This was after Pope Francis appointed Jesuit priest Jacques Servais to investigate the complaint. 

However, in an apparent conflict of interest, the Belgian scholar (an expert on theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar) is also the director of a house of formation known as "Casa Balthasar," for which Ouellet sits on the board, Church Militant reported

Today, I am no longer F. I am Paméla Groleau.

Groleau responded by saying she would "fight" to "regain my dignity which was torn from me but also and above all because I am a member and representative of this Church and I still believe in its relevance."

"I am fighting because I want to be proud of my institution. I dream of seeing her stand up for the weakest, the impoverished, the wounded," she emphasized. "I hope that the Church will be able to recognize its own poverty rather than hide it."

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Groleau (left) at a commissioning service in her parish

Three other bishops are named in the class action lawsuit filed by the Arsenault Dufresne Wee law firm against the archdiocese of Québec. The lawsuit alleges abuse by 134 clerics in total. 

Bishop Jean-Pierre Blais, one of the accused, still officiates as bishop in the diocese of Baie-Comeau. Blais is accused of "touching" and "masturbation" while abusing a 12-year-old in the presbytery of Charny, Lévis, between 1973 and 1975. 

The former bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Clément Fecteau, has been accused of touching a 13-year-old child in the locker room of the Séminaire de Québec in 1987. He also faces allegations of exhibitionism. Fecteau died in 2017 at the age of 84.

The former auxiliary bishop of Quebec, Jean-Paul Labrie, is accused of molesting teenagers aged 16 and 17 in 1968. Labrie died in 2001.

Since 2010, Ouellet has held the position of prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops — one of the most important and influential positions in the Vatican. The dicastery is primarily responsible for the appointment of bishops.

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