Pope’s ex-envoy faces trial for sex assault charges on multiple men

Pope Francis’s former ambassador to France, Luigi Ventura, will go on trial in Paris in November for alleged sexual assault. (AFP pic)

PARIS: Pope Francis’s former ambassador to France, Luigi Ventura, will go on trial in Paris in November for alleged sexual assault, sources told AFP on Thursday.

Ventura, an Italian-born archbishop, was stripped of his diplomatic immunity by the Vatican last July after he was questioned by police on sexual assault claims by four men, and resigned in December after reaching the 75-year age limit for his post.

His trial will open on November 10.

Ventura denies the allegations by four men, which include that he repeatedly groped the backside of a junior municipal official at the Paris town hall at a ceremony in January 2019.

Two other people have since come forward to report similar incidents.

There has also a complaint filed in Ottawa by a man who made similar allegations about an incident in 2008, while Ventura was serving in Canada.

A career diplomat, Ventura served in Brazil, Bolivia and Britain before being appointed nuncio, or envoy, to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chile and then Canada.

The Catholic Church has been battling a wave of allegations detailing decades of sexual assault and abuse by clerics, mostly involving minors.