In that lawsuit, a woman identified as “F” claimed that she was touched against her will by Cardinal Marc Ouellet and forced to perform sexual acts with another priest, Father Leopold Manirabrusha.
“F” said she met Ouellet at dinner in 2008 while working as an intern for the Diocese of Quebec, according to the lawsuit. She claimed in the legal filing that later that evening she “feel two hands fall on her shoulders and begin to massage her shoulders with force. F looks up and sees that it is Cardinal Marc Ouellet standing behind her and massaging her shoulders. Cardinal Marc Ouellet smiles at her and pats her on the back before he leaves.”
In another incident in 2008, “F'” reconnected with Ouellet, according to the lawsuit. Another priest asked if he knew “F”, according to the file, “to which he replies very loudly that they both know each other very well. Cardinal Marc Ouellet then casually kisses ‘F’ even though they had only seen each other once or two times before, holding her tight as he strokes her back with his hands,” the lawsuit said.
“F” claimed that one of the last times she came into contact with Ouellet was in February 2010. According to the lawsuit, Ouellet told her he could kiss her again because “it doesn’t hurt to spoil yourself a little.”
“F” said she said she didn’t say anything because she feared her internship and professional future depended on Ouellet, according to the lawsuit.
After attending a sexual assault training session, “F” had flashbacks of what she said she experienced with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, according to the lawsuit. Realizing that Ouellet’s interactions with her were unauthorized sexual touches and thus sexual assault, according to the lawsuit, she decided to tell her new partner and a few girlfriends.
One of these friends advised her to talk to the Advisory Committee on Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable People of the Catholic Church of Quebec about these sexual assaults, according to the lawsuit.
Ouellet denied making “inappropriate gestures to her person” in a statement released Friday by the Vatican press service.
“Having become aware of the false allegations made against me by the complainant (F.), I strongly deny that I made any inappropriate gestures towards her and consider the interpretation and dissemination of these allegations to be defamatory,” the statement said. statement from Ouellet. “If a civil investigation were to be opened, I intend to take an active part in it so that the truth is established and my innocence is recognized.”
A statement released by Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican news agency, said a preliminary investigation conducted by Fr. Jacques Servais, SI, concluded at the Pope’s request “that there are no elements to start a trial of Cardinal Ouellet for sexual assault.”
“After further relevant consultations, Pope Francis declares there are insufficient elements to open a canonical investigation into Cardinal Ouellet’s assault against Person F,” Bruni said in the statement.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec acknowledged the charges in the lawsuit against Cardinal Ouellet, but said it had no comment.
In addition, in the lawsuit, “F” described sexual assaults by another priest of the Diocese of Quebec, Father Leopold Manirabrusha.
“F” alleged that she was forced to perform sexual acts for Manirabrusha while she was an employee of the diocese, according to the filing. She claimed in the lawsuit that Manirabarusha one day took her to his library and made it clear that he expected her to have oral sex with him. “F” complied with his requirements and saw no other way out.
On about 15 separate occasions, according to the lawsuit, Manirabarusha sexually assaulted her in various places, including church property and a hotel.
The Archdiocese of Quebec confirmed that Manirabarusha is still a Catholic priest, saying, “but he has not been on duty since early April for suspension. So, until the whole matter is settled, he cannot have pastoral intervention with people.”
Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been one of the Vatican’s most prominent cardinals for over ten years. His name was raised as a possible pope during the 2013 conclave, according to CNN reporting from the time.
He has headed the powerful Vatican office of bishops since 2010. The agency is responsible for vetting and auditing Catholic bishops around the world and works closely with Pope Francis. Cardinal Ouellet usually meets weekly with the Pope to keep him informed of developments in his ministry, according to published bulletins of the Papal Meetings.
In 2019, when he turned 75, Ouellet submitted his resignation to Pope Francis, as required by Vatican law, but Francis did not accept it, as CNN has confirmed that Ouellet will remain in office.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in an email to CNN that it cannot confirm whether there is a criminal investigation and that investigations are usually confirmed if and when criminal charges are recommended against someone.
CNN has reached out to Quebec City’s director of criminal justice and criminal prosecution about possible criminal investigations and was informed by email that it currently has no public information about this case.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of the Abused by Priests, which has provided support to victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years, released a statement saying: “We applaud the courage of all victims involved in this case for their come forward and hope that they will receive the justice and healing they deserve.We recognize in particular that, given the prominence of the man she accused, the alleged victim of Cardinal Ouellet will undoubtedly be subject to intense public scrutiny, and we recognizing that for her to come forward took a lot of courage.”
CNN’s Nicola Ruotolo contributed to this report.