Ex-Vatican envoy faces sexual abuse charge in French court

International

FILE – In this Jan.4, 2018 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, left, greets Apostolic Nuncio to France Luigi Ventura during his New Year address to diplomats at the Elysee Palace in Paris. France’s foreign ministry says that the Vatican has decided to lift the immunity of its ambassador in France Archbishop Luigi Ventura, who is accused of sexual assault. (Yoan Valat, Pool via AP, File)

PARIS (AP) — The Vatican’s former ambassador to France goes on trial Tuesday for alleged sexual misconduct.

Multiple men have accused Archbishop Luigi Ventura of groping and inappropriate touching. Exceptionally, the Vatican last year lifted the ambassador’s diplomatic immunity, allowing for his trial and for the allegations to be properly investigated.

Ventura has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Among his accusers is Mathieu De La Souchere. He filed a police report in Paris in 2019 accusing Ventura of touching his buttocks repeatedly during a reception at Paris City Hall.

The Vatican recalled Ventura last year and he later retired. The Vatican has previously recalled its diplomats when they get into trouble during overseas postings, as is common for governments with diplomats serving abroad.

In the most high-profile case, the Vatican recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic and prepared to put him on trial in the city state’s criminal tribunal for allegedly sexually abusing young boys. But he died before the trial started.

Ventura’s trial comes the same day that the Vatican is releasing a much-awaited report into Theodore McCarrick, a once-influential American cardinal who was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of rumors that he was a sexual predator.

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