Adult who accused Quebec cardinal of sexual misconduct shatters church abuse stereotype

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The woman who recently accused Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet of sexual misconduct has shattered a stereotype about church abuse.

Solange Lefebvre, a professor of religious studies at the University of Montreal, says that the fact that Ouellet’s alleged victim is an adult could open the door for more people who are not children to make allegations against the Church.

Lefebvre says that while child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is well documented, these new high-profile allegations could also create opportunities for prosecutors and police to search for potential victims among young women involved in the crime. church.

A woman identified as “F.” In court documents filed Tuesday, she accused Ouellet of several incidents of sexual assault between 2008 and 2010, including sliding her hand down his back and touching his buttocks at an event in Quebec City.

F. is among approximately 300 alleged victims who have filed sexual abuse complaints against the church in two class action lawsuits brought by Montreal law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats and authorized by a judge.

Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats said in a statement Tuesday that in the first lawsuit, against the Archdiocese of Quebec, about 101 alleged victims accused about 88 priests or other clergy of sexual assault.

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

In the second trial, against the Brothers of the Christian Schools of French-speaking Canada, 193 alleged victims accused 116 members of this organization of sexual assault.

The court filings contained detailed charges against the clergy — including Ouellet — following the class action certification.

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

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

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

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

“That day, more than in previous meetings, F. understood that she had to flee Cardinal Marc Ouellet… the unease she felt was more present than ever,” the lawsuit states.

When she tried to expose the cardinal’s alleged actions, F. was told that Ouellet was “very friendly” and that she was not the only woman to have this kind of “problem” with him, according to 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 cleric’s actions “constitute non-consensual touching of a sexual nature and therefore, a sexual assault”. “, said the lawsuit.

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

Court documents indicate that as of the summer of 2022, “no findings regarding the complaints against Cardinal Marc Ouellet have been forwarded to F.”

Attorney Justin Wee says his firm’s class action lawsuits demonstrate that it’s not just young children — especially young boys — who face clergy sexual misconduct, but adult women as well.

Religionsexual abuse

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