Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet accused of sexual assault in class-action lawsuit against archdiocese

Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet is accused of sexual assault in documents tabled in Superior Court on Tuesday related to a class-action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec.

An unnamed woman – identified as “F.” – Cardinal Ouellet accused 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.

The allegations against Cardinal Ouellet are part of a series of claims made against clergy members that are included in two class-action lawsuits against the church that have been authorized by a judge.

Montreal-based law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats said in a statement Tuesday that in the first lawsuit, against the archdiocese of Quebec, some 101 alleged victims have suspected about 88 priests or other clergy members of sexual assault.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec said in a statement on Tuesday it was aware of the allegations, but it declined to comment.

In the second lawsuit, against the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Francophone Canada, 193 alleged victims have accused 116 members of that organization of sexual assault.

The documents tabled in court contained the detailed accusations against the clergy members – including Cardinal Ouellet – following the authorization of the class actions.

According to the lawsuit involving Cardinal Ouellet, F. met the cardinal in 2008 when she was 23 and working as a pastoral intern at the Quebec archdiocese. Following a dinner at the Sisters of Charity in Beauport, Que., in August of that year, the cardinally allegedly massaged her shoulders and stroked her back in a conference room, the lawsuit said.

“F remained frozen in the face of this intrusion and didn’t know how to react,” the lawsuit said.

In November of that year, the cardinal allegedly kissed her cheek and hugged her “with familiarity, even though they had only seen each other once or twice before, and held her firmly against him, caressing her back with his hands.”

And in 2010, during an ordination ceremony for a colleague, Cardinal Ouellet allegedly kissed her cheek, hugged her and “slid his hand along F.’s back to her buttocks.”

When she tried to speak out about the cardinal’s alleged actions, F. was told that Cardinal Ouellet was “very friendly” and that she wasn’t the only woman to have that kind of “problem” with him, according to the court documents.

In 2020, after F. participated in sexual assault training, she began to have “flashbacks of what she experienced with Cardinal Marc Ouellet,” and she understood that the clergyman’s actions “constitute non-consensual touching of a sexual nature and therefore, sexual assault ,” the lawsuit said.

The woman wrote a letter to Pope Francis in January 2021 regarding the cardinal and a month later, she was informed that the Pope appointed Father Jacques Servais to investigate her allegations.

The court documents said that as of summer 2022, “no conclusion concerning the complaints against Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been transmitted to F.”

Editor’s note: (Aug 16, 2022): This story has been updated to say that the alleged incident occurred during an event in 2010, not 2008.

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