A former ambassador from the Vatican was set to face trial on charges of sexual assault, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
In the report which was picked up by The Hindu Times, Pope Francis’ former ambassador to France Luigi Ventura will be tried beginning November 10 after being questioned by French authorities on claims by four men he allegedly sexually assaulted.
According to the complainants’ lawyer, Ventura was accused of inappropriate touching.
One of the men claimed he was repeatedly groped by Ventura by caressing his buttocks during a diplomatic ceremony in January 2019, while two men claimed they experienced the same from the bishop way back 2018, followed by a fourth.
In 2008, a complaint was filed in Ottawa, Canada by a man who made similar claims about an incident in 2008.
Ventura, an Italian-born archbishop, was stripped from his diplomatic post by the Vatican. He stepped down from his position as he reached the age limit of 75.
Ventura served in Brazil, Britain, and Bolivia, before being appointed as envoy to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chile and Canada.
The alleged victims said the decision to put him on trial was a “victory.”
The decision “validates what we have been saying all along and reinforces the victims in their decision to press their claims so that his impunity would not be allowed to continue,” the lawyer was quoted as saying.
Apart from Ventura, a Catholic priest named Bernard Preynat has been sentenced to a five-year jail term for sexually assaulting a boy scout in his care decades ago.
The Catholic church has been battling a series of allegations of sexual assault by its clerics, mostly on minors, while complaints by adult men were rare.
Pope Francis has repeatedly vowed to combat criminal offices in the church’s ranks under his term.
In June, a report said that at least 3,000 children have fallen victim to sex assaults since 1950 in the French Catholic Church.