Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet, once considered a front-runner to become pope, has been accused of sexual assault and is among a list of clergy members and diocesan staff named in a class-action lawsuit against the archdiocese of Quebec.
A woman identified as “F.” in court documents tabled on Tuesday accused Ouellet of several incidents of unwanted touching, including sliding his hand down her back and touching her buttocks at a 2010 event in Quebec City.
“That day, more than during previous meetings, F. understood that she must flee Cardinal Marc Ouellet … the uneasiness she felt was more present than ever,” the lawsuit said.
In the introductory application for class action filed on Tuesday, F. claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Ouellet between 2008 and 2010 and by Father Leopold Manirabarusha between 2016 and 2018.
The lawsuit involving Ouellet is one of two introductory applications for class action brought by Montreal-based law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats. The two class actions had recently been authorized by a Quebec judge, and the law firm had 90 days to submit the introductory documents detailing the alleged crimes.
Lawyer Justin Wee said Tuesday in an interview it’s “inevitable” that the class actions his law firm filed will lead to more people coming forward against the church in the coming weeks.
In the first lawsuit, in which Ouellet is named, 101 alleged victims have accused about 88 priests or diocesan staff of sexual assault. The archdiocese of Quebec said in a statement on Tuesday it was aware of the allegations, but it declined to comment.
And there’s this:
Ouellet in 2013 was considered a front-runner for the papacy, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. At the time, Italian media reported that Ouellet tied with the Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola in early voting at the Sistine Chapel, with Jorge Bergoglio — who eventually became Pope Francis — coming in third. Ouellet reportedly convinced his fellow cardinals to throw their support behind Bergoglio.