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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, announced last week that he is suing a woman who accused him of sexual assault. The cardinal is seeking $100,000 CAD, about $74,000 USD, in defamation damages. 

The accusation against the cardinal is part of a class action lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Quebec, where Ouellet served as archbishop from 2003 to 2010. In the lawsuit, 101 alleged victims have accused approximately 88 priests and other members of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Quebec of sexual assault. The accusations date from 1940 to the present. 

In a statement on December 13, Ouellet denied the accusations against him and said he was filing a defamatory lawsuit “to prove the falsity of the allegations made against me and to restore my reputation and honor.”  

“I have never been guilty of these reprehensible behaviors, much less of those alleged against other members of the clergy cited in the class action,” Ouellet said.  

“This inappropriate association, intentionally constructed and widely spread for improper purposes, must be denounced. 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 stated that should he win his case, he would donate any monetary compensation to a charity working against sexual abuse among Canadian Indigenous tribes: “Any financial compensation that I may receive as a part of these proceedings will be donated in its entirety in support of the fight against the sexual abuse of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. 

Catholic News Agency reports that, “According to the cardinal’s defamation lawsuit, the alleged incidents occurred at four different public events: a Sisters of Charity event in Beauport in the fall of 2008; a pastoral appointment ceremony in November 2008; a meeting at an event in a church basement; and during a diaconal ordination at a church in February 2010. 

As reported by LifeSiteNews in August, one of the accusations was that the cardinal kissed and groped a woman at a cocktail reception in 2008.  

In 2021, after being notified by the woman in question of the allegations against Ouellet, the Vatican had appointed Jesuit Fr. Jacques Servais to investigate the accusations. This past August, after the class action lawsuit was filed, Servais said that he had determined “there are no grounds” to open a canonical trial.

“Neither in his written report sent to the Holy Father nor in the testimony via Zoom that I subsequently took in the presence of a member of the Diocesan Ad Hoc Committee, did this person make an accusation that would provide grounds for such an investigation, Servais stated. 

Pope Francis then declared in an official Vatican statement that there are “insufficient elements” to open a canonical investigation into Ouellet. The Archdiocese of Quebec told LifeSiteNews at the time that it was aware of the allegations but had decided not to comment.