The former Vatican ambassador to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence Wednesday after he was found guilty by a French court for sexually harassing several men.
Archbishop Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio to France from 2009-2019, will also have to pay the victims €13,000 (about $16,000) in compensation and €9,000 (nearly $11,000) in legal fees, Vatican News reported. (REPORT: Pope Francis Vows To Rid Catholic Church Of Sexual Abuse Following Vatican Report Examining Decades-Long Scandal)
A Paris court convicted Luigi Ventura, a former Vatican ambassador to France of sexually assaulting five men in 2018 and 2019.https://t.co/MNfnLF8Elf— DW News (@dwnews) December 16, 2020
The court decided Archbishop Luigi Ventura was guilty of touching five men’s buttocks while performing diplomatic duties, according to the Catholic News Agency. However, Ventura maintains that he is innocent, and his lawyer Solange Doumic said that they would appeal the decision, Catholic News Agency reported.
Jade Dousselin, legal counsel for one of the plaintiffs, told the French newspaper, Le Figaro, that she was “extremely satisfied” with the decision. Praising the judge, she said that they “had the courage to go to the end. We are talking about a former Vatican ambassador!”
The investigation that led to this sentencing began after a junior official at Paris’ City Hall complained in Jan. 2019 that the archbishop, then 74 years old, molested him, Reuters reported. After the first accusation, other men stepped forward, according to Reuters.
“I am relieved, it is a two-year fight that is coming to an end,” said Mathieu de La Souchère, a complainant, according to Fox 47. “A lot of people told us not to (do it) because it was David against Goliath, but we did well.”
In July 2019, the Vatican had waived Ventura’s immunity, which he could have claimed as per the 1961 Vienna Convention On Diplomatic Relations, permitting French authorities to deal with him as if he were a private citizen, Catholic News Agency reported. The waiving “was intended” to convey Ventura’s “willingness to cooperate fully and spontaneously” with local authorities, according to Vatican News.